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Centralized whole blood processing begins in Greece

Like in many other countries, the blood supply in Greece tends to be inadequate and fragmented due to a variety of factors causing demand to outpace supply. In fact, Greece is ranked as the second highest consumer of blood components in Europe.1 


The need for change

The HNBTC was established in 2005, in response to Directive 2002/98/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, which had been enacted to improve the quality and safety of blood and blood components and to contribute to patient confidence in a safe blood supply. Located in Athens, HNBTC supervises 90 hospital blood banks and four blood centers. One blood bank is in Athens at HNBTC headquarters and is the only one not located within a hospital; it does not perform in-house collection and transfusion. The other three blood centers — in Thessaloniki, Patras and Crete — are in public university hospitals and are responsible for collection, processing, transfusion and distribution of blood, as well as centralized serology and nucleic acid amplification (NAT) testing for the regions they cover.


Despite all blood banks and centers being under HNBTC supervision, in 2016, Greece was still receiving only 48 percent of its donations from voluntary donors, leaving it to rely on replacement donors, the armed forces and about 26,000 units from the Swiss Red Cross to meet demand. Total blood collection in Greece in 2016 was 555,200 units and the number of transfused units was 532,200. To meet the needs of hematology-oncology and cardiac surgery patients, a large number of platelet apheresis procedures are being performed at a high cost. Additionally, special groups of patients (transplanted, immunocompromised, thalassemic) are being transfused with expensive leukoreduced components prepared in individual hospital blood banks.


Enter centralized blood processing

To help better meet the needs of patients in Greece, the HNBTC was tasked with developing and organizing a national blood transfusion system through a strategic plan — including central management and supervision of all blood services. Its goals include:

  • Maintain inventory even through periods of shortage, i.e., summer and holidays
  • Ensure the availability of special products (i.e., leukoreduced RBCs) to meet specific patient needs
  • Stop the import of blood from Switzerland
  • Improve quality and consistency of components by implementing standard operating procedures
  • Implement a database for tracking blood components "vein to vein"
  • Improve resource management and efficiency
  • Develop uniform policies and functions for donor recruitment, motivation and education, as well as manage coordination of blood drives


And, of course, reduce costs. The annual cost to prepare leukoreduced products and apheresis platelets in Greece is an estimated EUR 11M. Central processing of 150,000 of the approximately 550,000 units of whole blood collected is expected to generate significant savings annually while ensuring higher quality, uniform products and sufficient platelets for patients.


And that's where Reveos comes in

HNBTC had already implemented centralized NAT and serology testing (in 2017 and 2013, respectively), and was looking for a partner to bring centralization to whole blood processing. Olga Larda from Rontis, the local distributor, Michel Krambousanos, Regional Marketing Manager, and David Schapman, the regional representative from Terumo BCT EU had had several discussions with HNBTC starting in 2016. HNBTC was especially interested in the Reveos® Automated Blood Processing System because of its ability to process 100,000 units without the need for additional staff. Reveos would also allow existing HNBTC staff to be used more effectively. In 2018, when the location of a new processing center was approved, Marcel Imholz, Senior Field Support Specialist, helped the local organization by designing and advising on the detailed mapping of the new lab and its needs.


One year later when the budgets at HNBTC were approved, the Rontis expert, including Panagiotis Stylianopoulos and George Galaios, and the Terumo BCT team, including Maarten Raemdonck, Nils-Tore Pettersen and Bernard Nowak, went to work helping HNBTC to set up the server and install and implement eight Reveos devices.


Centralization of an entire country — especially one with geographical challenges — requires a phased approach. The initial installation of Reveos is in the blood center of the HNBTC headquarters and will gradually process 100,000 units of the 300,000 it typically collects in the state of Attica. The goal is to have Attica fully centralized by 2021. Terumo BCT is under contract with HNBTC for 20 months.


Congratulations to Rontis and the Terumo BCT EMEA team for collaborating successfully to provide HNBTC with the consultation, service and resources to begin its journey toward 100 percent centralization. As the project progresses, we'll keep you updated. Watch for the hashtag #ReveosInGreece in the News Ready portal.


1 Valsami S, Grouzi E, Pouliakis A, et al. Red Blood Cell Transfusions in Greece: Results of a Survey of Red Blood Cell Use in 2013. Yunanistan'da Eritrosit Transfüzyonu: 2013'de Eritrosit Kullanımı Anketinin Sonuçları. Turk J Haematol. 2017;34(1):52–58. doi:10.4274/tjh.2016.0188

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