Bengaluru

Blood banks drop in collection with second wave of COVID-19

The second wave of COVID-19, followed by lockdown restrictions, has severely affected blood donation drives in the recent months. At the same time, however, demand for blood has also dropped as hospitals are postponing elective surgeries.

Chairman of Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS), Karnataka State Branch S. Naganna told The Hindu that before the pandemic, the IRCS used to collect 3,500 blood units per month. Over the past few months with the steep rise in cases, this has dropped to 500-600 units. He pointed out that while elective surgeries can be postponed, there is still a need to provide blood to patients with Thalassemia or cancer, road accident victims, those on dialysis, and other emergency procedures.

 

One of the reasons for poor collections is the inability of banks to conduct large drives. Working professionals and students, who form the bulk of donors, are no longer easily accessible as colleges are closed and people are working from home.

“The situation is grim. Due to the pandemic and lockdown restrictions, IT companies, big industries and colleges have remained closed. A majority of the donors are staying at home due to the work-from-home option. We are not in a position to hold blood donations camps in large numbers. Moreover, there are many instances of the donors testing positive for COVID-19. These factors have resulted in reduced blood collection,” Mr. Naganna said.

He added that last year too, blood collection had been impacted due to the outbreak of pandemic. “Every year, on an average, the IRCS collects 40,000 units of blood. Last year, it had come down to 23,000 units. After November, we had seen some improvement but now due to the steep surge in the pandemic cases, it has dropped again,” he added.

Other blood banks in Bengaluru are in a similar situation. Dr. Narasimha Murthy, medical officer of Bangalore Medical Services Trust, a not-for-profit organisation run by the Rotary Club and TTK group of companies, said that their monthly collection has dropped to 1,000 units from 3,200 units.

“We are already in mid-May, but we have managed to collect only 600-690 units of blood. A majority of the blood donors fall in the age group of 18 to 45. We used to get a lot of support from companies and colleges, but due to lockdown restrictions they are closed. Some residential complexes also become containment zones thus posing a challenge for blood collection,” said Dr. Murthy.

Fortunately, demand has come down by 50% due to surgeries being postponed. “We are now providing blood as per availability. At present, we currently give 150 to 200 units a month to Thalassemia patients,” he said.

Blood banks across Karnataka have also been affected; prior to COVID-19, they used to collect more than the target fixed, which is no longer the case. In the financial year 2020-21, all 240 blood banks in the State had collected a total of 6.30 lakh units. In April 2021, records show that they had collected 48,400 units of blood.

D. Jayaraju, State Deputy Director (Blood Safety) said the government has not received any reports on scarcity of blood. “Each blood bank has a directory of donors. If there is a demand for rare blood groups they contact the donor and arrange for the blood. To contain the spread of COVID-19, restrictions have been imposed on gathering of people, and as a result, blood donation camps cannot be held like in normal days. However, blood banks are sending vehicles to places wherever donors are available in small numbers,” he said.


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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 1:42:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/blood-banks-drop-in-collection-with-second-wave-of-covid-19/article34593556.ece

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