The DRK blood donation service sounds the alarm: There are hardly any reserves of blood products left in Germany. “On the shelves almost everywhere is empty.” There are mutliple reasons for this.

Blood donations plummeted before the summer holidays. There are currently up to 30 percent fewer donations, a spokesman for the blood donation service of the German Red Cross (DRK) in Munich told the AFP news agency. “There are hardly any buffers, hardly any reserves, almost everywhere on the shelves it is empty.”

The spokesman justified this, among other things, with the very high demand for blood products in the hospitals, where many operations that were postponed due to the corona pandemic are currently being made up for. At the same time, after the pandemic-related restrictions of previous years, there is an “incredible urge to travel” among Germans. As a result, donors are “not available”.

Appeal: It is best to donate blood before you go on holiday

“We now need a trend reversal to avert a serious emergency,” said the DRK spokesman before World Blood Donor Day next Tuesday. On the one hand, continuity in blood donation is necessary. In Germany, for example, only around three percent of the population regularly donates blood. In order to ensure a sufficient supply of blood preparations in the long term, a share of around six percent is necessary.

The DRK appealed to the citizens to go to a blood donation center before going on vacation. “We need continuity over the summer,” said the spokesman. Around 14,000 blood donations are needed every day in Germany for operations, accident victims and the treatment of serious illnesses such as cancer.

It is also important to bring back young first-time donors who donated blood during the peak of the pandemic and relieve the risk groups and to win them over for regular donations. One or two blood donations a year would be helpful, said the spokesman. Normally men can donate blood up to six times and women up to three times within twelve months.

Blood donations: These rules apply

Experts are particularly worried about demographic change. Every year around one hundred thousand active blood donors in Germany drop out for reasons of age or because of illness. On the other hand, the need among older people is increasing.

The period between two blood donations must be at least eight weeks. The body regenerates blood cells in two weeks, but it takes about two months to compensate for the loss of iron, and a little longer for women. A blood donation can help up to three seriously ill or injured people. However, blood preparations only last a maximum of 42 days, and some concentrates only last a few days.

In principle, anyone between the ages of 18 and 68 can donate blood, with the maximum limit for the first donation being 60 years. In principle, older people can also be considered if their state of health allows it. This is checked before each donation.

Anyone who was ill with Covid-19 may only donate two weeks after recovery. People with cold symptoms are generally not allowed to donate blood. During pregnancy and after childbirth, women should temporarily not donate blood. A temporary exclusion also applies after many vaccinations and trips abroad to malaria areas or countries with a risk of hepatitis. It is temporarily not possible to donate after major operations or when taking certain medications.

After acupuncture treatments, unless they can be proven to have been carried out in a sterile manner, as well as piercings and tattoos, you have to wait at least four months before the next donation in order to rule out infections with certainty. Waiting periods also apply to people whose sexual behavior may put them at higher risk of transmitting an infectious disease such as hepatitis or HIV.

People with certain pre-existing conditions such as insulin-dependent diabetes, hepatitis or chronic inflammatory diseases are permanently excluded.