Blood banks have less than 20% stock in hand
AHMEDABAD / SURAT / VADODARA / RAJKOT: If medical emergency strikes your family member, chances are high that you would have to donate blood in emergency. This is because major city blood banks have run dry during 67 days of lockdown.
Kiran Chudgar, chairman of Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS), Ahmedabad district branch, said that they have less than 20% of stock normally available. “Against 5,000-7,000 units of blood received monthly, we have only been able to collect 1,000 units last month. Of these, nearly 800 units are required as life saving therapy for thalassemic children alone,” he said.
Similarly, Prathama Blood Center in Ahmedabad is reduced to hand-to-mouth inventory, said its medical director Dr Ripal Shah. “We used to get about 3,000 units monthly against which last month we have received only some 800 units which is mere 26% of the normal,” she said.
Experts say that small blood banks are faring much worse. Dr Sanjay Gupta, immediate past president of Gujarat chapter of Indian Society of Blood Transfusion & Immunohaematology (ISBTI) said smaller set-ups would have less blood stocks. “Recently, we scrambled for blood for a surgery and could barely manage two units,” Dr Gupta. He added that apart from thalassemics and those undergoing surgeries, patients with blood cancer, sickle cell or other blood-related disorders too need a steady blood supply.
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Chudgar said that poor blood inventories are result of double whammy of lockdown and Covid-fear. “College students and office-goers are the biggest blood donors who keep the blood inventory running for us. Due to lockdown, the establishments were closed. It was also not possible to hold major blood camps,” he said. “People feared that they might contact Covid-19 if they come into hospital or even blood bank setting. We could dispel many myths but it would still take some time,” he said.
Demand for blood set to rise, supply not enough
We are thus sending blood collection vans to donors’ doorsteps. We also have a list of the regular donors whom we could approach for any specific blood group if emergency arises. But we would like to appeal to Amdavadis to donate blood to save lives,” said Dr Ripal Shah The scenario is not very different in other major cities of Gujarat. “We require 70 units of blood daily while we are receiving only 39 units as no big camps are being organized,” said Dr Narendra Vasavada, CEO of Surat Raktadan Kendra.
“We urge the state government to grant necessary permission to organize blood donation camps that can be held with proper precautionary measures. One such camp could collect100 to 500 units in a go,” said Dr Vijay Shah, honorary medical director of Vadodara-based Indu Blood Bank.
Deepak Patel, president of IRCS Rajkot, said that they used to collect about 50 units daily before lockdown. “The number had got reduced to 10 in April but due to our efforts, it’s now around 25. Demand is expected to increase but against that, we are not getting adequate supply,” he said, adding that it would not be possible to organize the blood donation camps like pre-lockdown period for at least some time now and the banks would have to depend on smaller camps and individual donors.