More than 70,000 well-meaning Hongkongers tried to donate blood last year but were turned away – a 15 per cent rise from the year before – with one in eight donors found to have low iron intake, according to the Hong Kong Red Cross.
Low blood iron levels caused by poor diet choices were to blame for the increase, with affected would-be donors told they couldn’t donate due to anaemia or low haemoglobin levels, the city’s Red Cross blood transfusion service’s chief executive Dr Lee Cheuk-kwong said on Tuesday.
As numbers decline, Red Cross calls on more young Hongkongers to give blood Lee urged Hongkongers to pay attention to their iron intake so that fewer people would be turned down at future donation drives, especially at a time when the demand for blood was growing due to the city’s ageing population.
People wanting to increase their iron levels should eat iron-rich foods, consume Vitamin C, which can help enhance iron absorption, and take care not to drink tea and coffee too soon after eating, as the drinks could limit the body’s ability to absorb iron, he said.
In Hong Kong, 32 out of every 1,000 citizens donate blood – slightly lower than the median blood donation rate in high-income countries, which is 33.1 donations per 1000 people, according to the World Health Organisation.