A patient receiving a blood pressure test

A blood production assistant has warned that the coronavirus pandemic could lead to a shortage of blood for hospital operations because of the restrictions in movement imposed by the lockdown.

Blood production assistant: Jordan Da Costa

Jordan Da Costa is a blood production assistant and works in a London-based laboratory at the National Health Service Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) unit.

Jordan’s team is tasked with the validation, storage and issuing of blood components that come in from the clinic’s donors.

“This is a vital part of the organisation,” Jordan says, “as our department is responsible for providing hospitals with the blood products that go on to save people’s lives.”

“As fewer people are [allowed] out on the streets, we are only getting 700 to 1,000 donations a night.”
Jordan Da Costa, Blood Production Assistant

The coronavirus pandemic has created problems for the usual day-to-day work life for blood transplant centres. It has become a particularly more dangerous time for transplant patients, who are amongst the most at-risk in the UK population.

The NHS Trust has labelled patients taking a certain level of immunosuppression medicines and dialysis patients to be “extremely vulnerable”.

Additionally, there is a greater need for them to strictly follow the safeguarding measures set out by the government compared with other members of the public.

NHS Blood Transplant Centre in Edgeware, London

Moreover, extra safety measures have had to be implemented in blood transplant centres for the safety of blood donors and staff.

“Before the coronavirus was declared a pandemic, work was relatively straightforward. We were manufacturing and processing 1,200 to 1,500 blood donations a night,” Jordan says.

In contrast, since the lockdown there are restrictions on the public’s movement and the clinic is now only receiving “700 to 1,000 donations” a night.

Jordan Da Costa speaks of the added pressure the pandemic has brought to the workplace

Despite this, this does not mean the pressure has been eased on Jordan and his colleagues. “The workload isn’t a lot at the moment.

However, we are leading a programme to collect convalescent plasma [from people who have had a confirmed case of COVID-19] workload is increasing again.”

With the new samples of the convalescent plasma, the NHSBT aims for these to aid their staff in “clinical trials and if successful, widespread treatment in hospitals”. Jordan explains that the NHSBT is accessing whether the special plasma infusions can save lives and reduce the time people need to be on a ventilator in hospitals.

You are allowed to leave your home for any medical need such as:

  • To donate blood
  • To escape harm or injury
  • To avoid illness
  • To provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • To exercise for an hour per day – either on your own or with members of your house

For more advice on how to protect yourself and others from the COVID-19, please click: www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak