Bulgaria Urges Blood Donations amid Acute Shortage
For the ninth successive year Bulgarians have been invited to donate blood as part of the national spring campaign, initiated by the country's Red Cross.
The campaign goes under the motto "Donate blood – save a life" and will continue by May 20.
Bulgaria is showing no sign of being able to cope with the acute shortage of blood as people are becoming more and more reluctant to join donation campaigns, a Novinite.com check showed.
The major part of the Bulgarians who undergo planned operations ask their relatives to donate the needed blood, falling an easy prey to the black market dealers.
Lingering around the National Transfusion Centre, a group of a dozen gypsies may look like any other Roma men who roam along the suburban streets of the capital, but their real purpose is trading blood for money.
The Roma charge from BGN 300 to BGN 600 for the priceless document that proves one of them has donated at least 450 ml of blood.
The black market for blood has recently seen some upgrade with the dealers starting to do business online, which only cemented their status as a staple, though stark, example of health care reminiscent more of a third world country than an EU member state.
It is only after the start of the transition period that Bulgarian hospitals became chronically short of blood for transfusion. Under the communist regime hospitals disposed of sufficient amounts of blood reserves as blood donation campaigns were obligatory.
The number of blood donors shrank dramatically since the fall of communism, leaving patients with yet another psychological obstacle to overcome beside the disease itself and the hospitals' insufficient capacity.
Bulgaria's Ministry of Health says it is recording an ever-declining trend of the number of the voluntary blood donors. Data shows that Bulgaria lags far behind international standards for blood donation - 21 donors per 1,000 people against the required 60 donors per 1,000 people.
Poor economic conditions and low living standards top the list of reasons, together with the fact that blood donation costs time, some pain, and occasionally unpleasant consequences.
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