‘Power supply is essential to preserve blood stored in the bank. A gap of even one hour can lead to disintegration of red blood cells.'
Power blackouts continued to cripple large parts of coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions due to the ongoing strike by electricity employees in protest against the division of Andhra Pradesh.
The grim power situation has resulted in power-cut ranging from 3 to12 hours. An 11-hour power disruption on Wednesday threw normal life out of gear in the city, affecting almost every sector.
Blood banks are one of the worst hit by the power outages. “Power supply is essential to preserve blood stored in the bank. We have nearly 260 units of blood stored here and a gap of even one hour can lead to haemolysis, the disintegration of red blood cells, with the release of haemoglobin. Once dissolution or destruction of cells such as blood cells or bacteria occurs, the blood cannot be used. It has to be discarded,” says S. Madan Mohan, Chief Medical Officer of the Rotary Blood Bank in Gandhinagar.
The blood bank has only one 25 kv generator which can operate for a maximum of six hours at a stretch. “Recently, I visited Kothagudem and collected 70 units of blood from donors. Most importantly, we have nearly 50 children suffering from Thalassemia depending on this bank for blood transfusion every 21 days. We need to keep blood stocks available for these kids at least. I am not against ‘Samaikyandhra’ agitation but I strongly feel that blood banks must be exempted from the strike impact,” says Dr. Madan Mohan.
To tide over power crisis, the blood bank has hired an additional 10 kv generator on rental basis. “This is a standby facility. When the main generator stops, we operate the second one,” he says elaborating on other problems that have been plaguing the the bank such as erratic power schedules.
Red cells and whole blood must always be stored at a temperature between +2 Degree C and +6 Degree C in blood bank refrigerators which have in-built temperature monitoring and alarm devices and a cooling fan to ensure even distribution of cold air throughout the equipment.
Whole blood can be stored for 35 days in a blood bank. “Blood is very precious. We cannot afford to neglect any aspect related to its storage. Moreover, in the wake of closure of most of the colleges, which are major source of blood donors, we are forced to depend on other sectors,” said Dr. Madan Mohan.