Pandemic Preparedness Project - Australia's blood supply in a major disaster

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How will we meet clinical demand?

A major disaster will affect Australia’s blood donation and manufacturing process, and clinical demand, with potential to adversely impact sufficiency of supply.  The impact of a major disaster (such as an influenza pandemic) on clinical demand is currently very poorly understood and urgently needs further research. 

Maintaining blood supply to meet demand is a highly complex process. It relies on donor recruitment, donor collections, manufacturing and testing of blood components, management of inventory and the distribution to end-users, and transfusion services at hospitals. The short shelf life of blood products means that inventory must always be closely linked with expected demand both in large metropolitan centres which are typically located close to blood supply centres, and in regional and remote centres across the nation.

The Pandemic Preparedness Project aims to provide comprehensive and detailed Australian data on blood component use to inform development of a robust model of blood supply and clinical demand in support of national and international contingency planning.  Specifically the project will:

  • Perform a detailed study of blood component use in Australian hospitals to enable us to quantify the likely changes in clinical demand for blood components (type and volume) during a pandemic (or other disaster).
  • Categorise the urgency of clinical need for blood products.
  • Assess the potential impact of delaying or with-holding transfusions. 
  • Determine if the need for transfusion may have been prevented by a change in hospital activity (i.e. if non-elective surgery was delayed, if chemotherapy for a low-grade malignancy was delayed, etc. and various combinations of these approaches).
  • Refine modelling predictions of clinical demand for blood components during a pandemic or similar event which can be used to inform likely impact of rationing measures on demand for blood products and on patient morbidity and mortality.
  • Inform the development of national contingency measures designed to ensure sufficiency during a pandemic (or other disaster).