Rise in dengue cases strains city’s blood banks

Even as the city is struggling to cope with the rise in dengue cases, an acute shortage of platelets in most blood banks has hit treatment. People are forced to look for donors or offer blood replacement to the banks in exchange for the platelets, a vital blood transfusion component for the treatment of dengue.

On Thursday, except for one blood bank, none had available stocks of platelets.

Demand rises

While most blood banks in the city are facing a demand of at least 150 units a day, they are not able to supply more than 100 units. “The demand for platelets has gone up considerably in the last one month as cases of dengue have risen. We are struggling to meet the demand now. When the outbreak started, on some days we even used upto 200 units a day,” said Arpita Desai, medical officer of Red Cross Society’s Blood Bank.

As platelets have a maximum shelf life of five days, laboratories usually process the blood only when required. But in the current situation, labs are processing blood as and when it is collected to reduce the wait. Platelets have to be processed within six hours of drawing blood, Dr. Desai said.

Outstation calls

M.S. Ramaiah Blood Bank officer Nanda Kishore said the number of blood donations don’t match the demand. “We are supplying 18 to 20 units of random donor platelets and 5 to 10 units of single donor platelets. We also get calls from Davangere, Chitradurga and Hassan,” he said.

Deepak Suman, coordinator of Lions Blood Bank in Bhagwan Mahaveer Jain Hospital, said: “On an average, we are supplying 150 units every day. The demand has gone up in the last one month and we hope it will stabilise if three or four blood donation camps are held.” A representative from Rotary-TTK Blood Bank and Rashtrothana blood bank also expressed similar hopes.

BBMP underplays

Although doctors in city hospitals are seeing an average of 30 patients with dengue-like symptoms every day and some deaths reported in private hospitals, Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials denied they were confirmed dengue cases.

“From January till date, only 111 confirmed cases of dengue have been reported. All suspected cases cannot be considered dengue-hit. Private hospitals are showing inflated numbers just because they want to cash in on the panic situation,” claimed a BBMP official in charge of vector-borne disease control.

Dengue symptoms include intermittent fever and headache, pain in the joints, rashes all over the body and pain behind the eyeballs.