RECENTLY, my nephew underwent surgery and a requirement for the procedure is to have blood products available. Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication in the schedule of operation. He was admitted on a weekend and he was scheduled for surgery on the first hour of Monday. There the story began. We had to secure a total of 12 units of blood products to be used in the surgery.

Running against time, we tried to secure the blood products in the known institutions that were established for this - the Davao Blood Center and the Philippine National Red Cross. We were confident that we can secure the requests from these institutions.

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To our dismay, both institutions informed us that “there was no stock of blood,” much more the most common blood type in man which is blood type “O”. We were instructed to bring our donors so we may be able to get our request. However, both institutions had a “cut-off time.”

Blood Center had already closed since we reached them after the cut-off time for extraction of blood. While one of us was working on this, another one contracted all the hospitals here in Davao City.

To our great surprise, the answer we got was uniform for all" "sorry, but we do not have any stocks of blood." Not to be defeated just like that we resorted to calling the neighboring hospitals in Panabo and Tagum which basically echoed the same reply we got from the hospitals in the city.

This led to the joke of "wala namang gyera o disaster man lang para maubos ang dugo dito." Going back to the donors, frantic calls were made to relatives and friends and the response was overwhelming. "Cut-off time" was nearing at the PNRC for that was the only institutions left open. Everyone was on edge, thinking that they may not be able to make it.

Of the 15 donors that trooped to this institutions only 4 were accepted as donors since the 11 others were declared "anemic" (by way of clarification, the donors gathered were not the professional donors nor were they suffering from any form of malnutrition).

The professional on duty that day at PNRC, extended their services to us way beyond their cut-off time. We know that, had they not extended their time, we will have to wait until 8:00 a.m. the following day for that was the official time of extraction. For that, we felt so grateful. Finally, we were able to secure the 12 units of blood products needed for the operation.

We breathed a sigh of relief despite the experience we had, but then the story did not end there. The following day, a Monday, another three units of blood product was needed by my nephew, who was still undergoing surgery. The request was made at 4:30 p.m.

Once more, the family was thrown in a panic mode knowing full well that the institutions were near closing time again. While one of us ran to PNRC, another one began calling the other hospitals again, thinking that they may already have stocks of blood, it being a Monday.

For the second time around, we received the same answer "sorry we have no stocks of blood available." Desperate to get the much needed blood, we asked where else here in Davao can we secure blood. We were referred then to Carmen, Davao del Norte (which is one hour travel time from the city) since there is a center there, the Provincial Hospital Office who might have the needed blood.

This center is also known to be open for 24 hours and they might just help us out. And for the third time around, the answer was still the same "sorry, we have no stocks available." In the meantime, the one assigned at PNRC arrived a few minutes before 5 p.m.

He was told "extraction time" was already closed. He had his donors with him, yet they were no longer extracting and they were done for the day. Extraction will resume the following day. Our hearts literally stopped. What now? Our loved one urgently needed the blood.

It took some more reaching out to some doctor friends to help us out in the dilemma. It was only then that we were able to get the much needed blood. This is because we had extra help to do it.

This experience was truly an eye-opener. Questions had to be asked the answers had to be given. Blood is man's life line. Institutions were established just so, this need is addressed properly. Yet, these institutions did not even have enough of the life saving fluid (blood) of man, which is supposed to be the main reason for their existence.

We had the belief that these institutions are ever ready to provide blood at any given time including weekends, holidays and most especially after office hours; only to find out that this is not so.

After all, there is no existing rule or a rigid schedule to follow, which states that special cases that need precious blood must not happen on a weekend, holidays, after office hours or even after cut-off time. Otherwise, you might just lose the life of a life of a loved one, if they can't hold on till the office hours are resumed.

This may be a 15-hour wait from closing time, or worse 18 hours on a weekend since their function ceases at 11 a.m. or 12 noon. Even if you have a donors" card or a whole bunch of good hearted donors, once cut-off for "bleeding "time is reached, you just have to wring your hands in frustration and really pray hard, that nothing will happen to your patient till operations resume the following day. It was so heart rending for us then, and I believe we were not only ones who had the same experience seeing the other people milling around the institutions. (To be continued)