A blood shortage of crisis proportions looms this festive season amid revelations that the Lesotho Blood Transfusion Services (LBTS) has only got 20 blood units sourced from Mokoanyane Barracks in Maseru yesterday.
This means that the LBTS can only cater for 20 patients before its stock completely runs out.
This was revealed by the LBTS' Principal Laboratory Technician, Khotso Kalake, in an interview with the Lesotho Times yesterday.
The LBTS has been facing challenges in collecting enough blood after the Ministry of Education and Training imposed stringent regulations that made it difficult for the LBTS to source blood from learners who were among the biggest blood donors in the county.
The regulations were imposed after parents complained to the ministry that they were not consulted over the blood donations sought from their children.
Last October, a similar blood crisis played out in the country. It got to the extent where patients requiring blood transfusions were asked by hospitals to bring their relatives or other donors to give them blood. At the time, Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital (also known as Tšepong) -- the country's largest referral hospital -- said the blood shortages delayed operations on patients and other life-saving medical procedures.
Even Pelonomi Hospital in Bloemfontein was turning away Basotho patients referred without their own blood units.
Commenting on the latest situation, Mr Kalake said all the blood units collected last week had already been distributed to the health facilities which requested blood, leaving them without any supplies.
He said the blood situation was dire and it would have been far worse had it not been for the 20 blood units they received from Mokoanyane Barracks.
"We are in a very serious crisis and we can only hope that the blood units we have already distributed to various health facilities will be enough to cope with demand this festive season," Mr Kalake said. He appealed to the nation to generously donate blood in the coming days to ensure there is enough blood in the new year.
"We call on all Basotho to come forward and donate blood now and even after Christmas to enable us to have reserves going into the new year."
He said the blood shortages were worrying especially at this time of the year when demand for blood is usually high due to motor vehicle accidents and stabbings as people celebrate the Christmas and new year holidays.