Blood donations keep falling on low birth rates

October 28, 2016

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — Blood donations in South Korea have sharply dropped this year partly due to falling birth rates, adding to concerns over the nation’s blood inventory, data showed Friday,

The number of blood donations nationwide fell 9 percent on-year to 1.94 million in the first nine months of 2016, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Korean Red Cross.

In particular, blood donations by teenagers and those in their 20s decreased 15.1 percent and 13.5 percent to 597,255 and 810,792, respectively.

It’s in contrast to the 8.2-percent rise in the number of blood donations by people aged 30 or older.

Officials attributed the trend to falling birth rates in the nation. The number of South Koreans aged between 16 and 19 who are eligible to donate blood dipped by an average of 68,000 annually over the past five years, the Korean Red Cross said.

Unless the problem is addressed, the number is expected to drop by an average of 125,000 per year over the next five years.

Currently, South Korea relies heavily on blood donations by students and soldiers for its blood supply. They account for 66.9 percent of total donations.

Last year, the blood demand by local medical services institutions exceeded the donated blood supply, with the situation worsening this year, added the officials.

The Korean Red Cross plans to focus efforts on reducing the dependence on the young for the blood supply and expanding donations by older generations through various joint programs and campaigns with the Ministry of Public Safety and Security and regional governments.

This undated file photo shows a person donating blood.

This undated file photo shows a person donating blood.