The Kingdom needs around 100,000 blood donors per year in order to treat all of the patients in need of blood transfusions, which is nearly 20 per cent higher than in previous years, according to the National Blood Transfusion Centre of Cambodia (NBTC).

NBTC deputy director Ly Sovith told The Post on May 12 that every six minutes in Cambodia, a donation of blood is needed to save a patient’s life. The total daily demand is up to over 200 blood transfusion bags in Phnom Penh alone. Nationwide demand for blood totals to about 100,000 bags per year, or almost 20 per cent more than in previous years.

The NBTC currently provides over 70 per cent of the Kingdom’s donated blood supply.

Citing the World Health Organisation, he said that free and voluntary blood donations had met only about 10 per cent of the country’s total needs, while in neighbouring countries their voluntary blood donations can supply up to 90 per cent of their needs.

However, despite the shortage of voluntary blood donations, Cambodia is able to cope with the yearly demand because more than 80 per cent of the nation’s blood needs are donated by people who give blood on behalf of a family member who is in need of a transfusion in order to “exchange” it at the blood bank for access to the type of blood needed by their loved ones.

“We can cope with it as we have replacement from those who donate their blood on behalf of others, but we don’t want to rely on that system. We want to see an increase of voluntary blood donors like neighbouring countries and thereby meet up to 90 per cent of our demand for blood supply in advance,” he said.

The need for blood increases day after day, but the supply of blood has dropped significantly since the Kingdom’s first major Covid-19 outbreak, which was dubbed the “February 20 community event” to mark the date it was first detected.

With the pandemic no longer a hindrance, the Cambodia Microfinance Association (CMA), National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia (UYFC) along with the banking sector and the Cambodian Banking Association, have all collaborated with the NBTC to launch a blood donation campaign called “Save My Life”.

CMA chairman Sok Voeun said the campaign began on May 12 in Phnom Penh with more than 700 registered participants. They also donated enough funds for one blood bank to be built at Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital.

“The campaign aims to collect blood donations from staff members and employees in the banking and financial sector as well as other stakeholders and the general public in order to save the lives of those in urgent need of blood. We’re also going to be collecting and donating charitable funds to help Kantha Bopha hospital and raising awareness about the importance of blood donations,” he said.

Rath Sovannarak, director-general of the NBC’s Banking Supervision Department, said: “Considering that the need for blood in Cambodia increases every year while the number of blood donors remains insufficient, we gathered together to day to join the “Save My Life” campaign and also raise funds for Kantha Bopha hospital,” he said.

Tima Vichhekal, member of the central committee of the UYFC and vice president of the UYFC in Phnom Penh, said the participation of everyone in Cambodian society in donating blood was something that would save the lives of their compatriots, including children, who are in urgent need of blood transfusions in hospitals and health centres.

“The blood donation drive and fundraising campaign to help Kantha Bopha Hospital must turn into a national movement that is active and widespread throughout the country.