Blood supply relatively stable

The supply of blood products in Switzerland was largely stable throughout the year, despite some fluctuations.

The blood product needs of the population in Switzerland could be met at all times in 2023 – it was possible to balance out regional shortages. The level of effort required to procure sufficient amounts of donated blood at the proper time has increased continually over recent years. This is reflected in the increasing numbers of mobile blood drives and the decrease in the number of blood donations collected per drive over the same period.

Steady demand for blood

The need for blood products by hospitals remained steady throughout the year, with overall demand for blood products once again somewhat lower than in the previous year. This is due to the more efficient use by hospitals.

Demand for red cell concentrates (erythrocyte concentrates), the most widely used blood products, fell by 1.2 per cent. The need for thrombocyte concentrates (platelets) increased by 2.3 per cent compared to 2022, plasma demand was down by 11.5 per cent.

More mobile drives – fewer blood donations

Once again, it became harder to get potential donors to come in to donate at mobile blood drives. There were more mobile blood drives held in 2023 (up 2.6 per cent) than in 2022, and they took place in more communities, but the average number of blood donations collected per drive decreased. Partly responsible for this is the fact that fewer donations are being collected at the mobile blood drives at companies or universities due to the use of home-office arrangements and attendance of webcast lectures, respectively.

A total of 2,101 blood drives (2022: 1,995) were held in 1,027 communities (2022: 995) in 2023. At 60.5, the average number of donations collected per drive was again down on the previous year (2022: 62). Nonetheless, mobile blood drives accounted for nearly one of every two donations, or 48.2 per cent to be exact (2022: 46.7 per cent).


Expiration rate slightly higher

Swiss Transfusion SRC and the regional blood transfusion services strive to ensure the national supply of blood products while aligning procurement activities as closely as possible with demand. There were 263,702 units of blood collected in 2023 (2022: 265,223), i.e. the total decreased by 0.6 per cent compared to 2022.

The expiration rate specifically for red blood cell concentrates rose to 1.08 per cent in 2023 (2022: 0.8 per cent). This is still a good rate, and it indicates that the regional blood transfusion services were able to respond flexibly to changes in the demand for blood in 2023 by adjusting the number of blood donations – the slight increase over 2022 is probably connected with the AB and B blood types, which, being rarer, are not needed as often, and the storage of the blood products derived from them, which is subject to time restrictions.

The length of time for which blood, or rather blood products, can be stored varies. Red cell concentrates have a shelf life of 42 to 49 days, whereas platelets can only be stored for seven days. Fresh frozen plasma can be stored for as long as two years.

Swisstransfusion: Switzerland. Congress for transfusion medicine

The 22nd annual Swisstranfusion congress took place in Rorschach on 31 August and 1 September.

The congress offered a varied programme for its 177 attendees, specialists from the fields of transfusion medicine, apheresis and immune haematology. Individual presentations covering a range of topics, including immune haematology, blood safety, donor criteria, donor management and quality issues, and the “poster walk” with 11 contributions were met with great interest.

There were also talks given on other topics by national and international specialists: ChatGPT in transfusion medicine, for instance, or an automated marketing programme of the Australian blood service. One contributor spoke on the mobilisation of blood donors, using the example of the French blood service.

World Blood Donor Day: You only notice it when it’s gone.

In Switzerland, there is often a decrease in the number of blood donations in the summer because people are away on holiday. This can result in shortages in the blood supply. As a preventive measure, Swiss Transfusion SRC ramped up its efforts to increase public awareness of blood donation on and around World Blood Donor Day, 14 June 2023.

As part of the “Missing Type” campaign, high-profile Swiss companies were contacted and asked to remove the letters representing the A, B and O blood types from their logos, texts, ads and social media posts during the days leading up to World Blood Donor Day.

Almost two dozen companies and well-known figures implemented the campaign, thus helping to ensure that sufficient blood reserves were on hand over the summer months.

New label for companies

The regional blood transfusion services work closely with local companies that host internal blood drives on their premises or encourage their employees to donate blood by providing time off or other incentives to do so. The label “Blutspenden – wir machen mit” (Blood donation – we’re doing our part) has been developed for these businesses to use as a way of positioning themselves as socially active businesses.