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Swiss Red Cross to Halve its Blood Supply to Greece Over Past Debts

Update Date: Feb 26, 2013 11:20 AM EST

The Swiss Red Cross will be cutting its supply of donor blood to Greece because the country has failed to pay its bills on time, according to the Associated Press.

The non-profit organization says that they will halve the number of blood packets delivered to Greece from 28,000 to 14,000 by 2020.

On Tuesday, Rudolf Schwabe, the head of the Swiss Red Cross' transfusion service, confirmed Swiss media reports that Greece, currently affected by major financial crisis and huge debt, had run up debts of several million Swiss francs in the past.  While those debts have been repaid, Schwabe says the Swiss Red Cross took the decision to limit its financial risk and reduce exchanges with Greece, according to Associated Press.

According to swissinfo.ch, the annual shipments of around 28,000 blood packets to Greece have been considered part of the SRC's humanitarian mandate.

 The blood sent to Greece by the SRC comes from unused emergency stockpiles.  It helps meet the high demand in Greece because around 10 percent of the country's population suffers from thalassaemia, a genetic blood disorder that results in the excessive destruction of red blood cells and whose carriers need regular blood transfusions.  Some thalassaemia patients often require transfusions every three to four weeks. People with the condition also cannot donate blood, leaving Greece heavily dependent on Swiss imports to make up for blood shortfalls, given that many other European countries do not export. 

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