The offtake of platelets from two prominent blood banks shows the demand is soaring.

Even when the first line of treatment for dengue fever is not transfusing platelets, the offtake of the blood component from two prominent blood banks shows the demand is soaring. IMA Blood Bank has issued 257 units of platelets from June 1 to 10 and the Regional Blood Transfusion Centre at Aluva has issued 177 units in ten days.

The IMA Blood Bank had issued 548 units in May. In the months preceding the dengue fever outbreak, the Blood Bank had issued 361 units in March and 293 in April.

From the Aluva Blood Bank, 75 per cent of the platelets have gone to private hospitals, said the Medical Officer in-charge. To the government hospitals blood and the components are given free of cost while the expenses of testing the blood at Rs. 250 per unit is charged for patients in private hospitals.

The demand is coming in from a lot of places, but the recent increase in demand because of the dengue fever and the relative shortage of platelets has forced the Medical Officer to inquire about the patient’s condition before issuing the blood component. The idea is to provide the scarce component to a patient who requires it urgently.

Most of the private hospitals have their own blood bank and patients’ relatives have to get donors too. The cost of blood varies in each private hospital too, though they are supposed to charge only the actual cost of testing blood.

The IMA Blood Bank gets enquiries from other districts too. People from Thodupuzha often reach here to get blood as there are few blood banks there. Enquiries also coming from the interiors like Kothamangalam, Perumbavur etc. The cost of blood components at the IMA is Rs. 800 (including the cost of NAT test).

Junaid Rahman, secretary, IMA-Kochi, said the clinical discretion of the doctor was important in prescribing transfusion of platelets. While providing platelets is not a cure but a supportive treatment for dengue fever, physicians have to take into account the overall condition of the patient. It is not necessary that the patient’s count has to fall below a critical level, he added.

The panic spread around dengue treatment is unnecessary as the virus does not have a particular treatment, said Dr. Rahman. Supportive treatment needs to be monitored and given as per requirement.

Usually the government hospitals might wait till the platelet count comes down to a critical level to issue the platelets, said Sunny P. Orathel, assistant professor, Department of Medicine, Cochin Medical College. But the private hospitals generally do not take that risk, he added. The patients’ bystanders are generally told to be prepared for a platelet transfusion so that they are not taken by surprise.

Fever update

The district medical officer reported three confirmed and 8 suspected cases of dengue fever in the district. These were reported from Manjapra, Maneed and Thiruvamkulam. There were 1,586 people with fever at various OP in government hospitals while 59 were admitted.

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