Soon after the suicide bomb exploded yesterday morning on Taksim Square in Istanbul, several media announced there was a need for blood at the hospitals where the wounded were taken. Two hospitals were mentioned, and the blood types needed were A and O positive. Apparently, colleagues of the wounded policemen were already in line to donate their blood.
We’re not talking about a third world country here, with medical facilities ten or more years behind, with the lowest standards in health care possible. Turkey pretty much offers affordable health care for all citizens, and many private hospitals attract patients from all over the world because they are so up to date in their specialist fields. The hospitals where the wounded policemen and civilians were taken are right in the middle of Beyoglu and Sisli, two very modern and extremely crowded parts of Istanbul.
Nor are we talking about a huge terrorist attack with dozens and dozens of people almost bleeding to death. Thirty two people were wounded, most of them slightly, and only two policemen were severely wounded and in need of surgery. Please don’t misunderstand me: I’m not playing down this tragic event, every act of violence is one too many. But from a medical perspective, this is not a number of casualties that seems hard to manage.
It’s wonderful that many Turks are always prepared to donate blood. They rush to the hospital to give blood when a relative, neighbour, friend or even teacher is in urgent need of blood. And Kizilay, the organisation that manages collecting and distributing blood, puts up tents on town squares and there are always people donating blood on the spot. Isn’t it enough? Are all the logistics badly managed? Or is there enough in stock but hospitals use the donors that come in after these sorts of events to get new stocks?
The last possibility seems too opportunistic. It just looks like hospitals in a city of 16 million people with a high risk of both terrorist attacks and earthquakes, just doesn’t have its hospitals’ blood supplies in order. Even very common blood types like A+ and O+ are apparently not in stock. It’s beautiful if people want to donate blood in these sorts of situations to show their solidarity, but if health care depends on it when the going gets really tough, there is something seriously wrong.