Blood banks told to stop replacement donation

Mumbai: The State Blood Transfusion Council (SBTC) has issued a circular to blood banks across Maharashtra, directing them to stop replacement blood donation and instead achieve 100% voluntary blood collection for patients.

Last week, the SBTC pulled up four hospitals in Mumbai for largely depending on replacement donors, and gave them three months’ time to change this pattern or face action. “We found out that these hospitals had very poor blood collection from camps. They were almost entirely dependent on replacement donors, which is not acceptable,” said Dr. Satish Pawar, head of the Directorate of Health Services.

He said the four hospitals — Nanavati, Saifee, Prince Aly Khan and Fortis Raheja — have been asked to organise more blood donation camps. “We have sent out a circular to all other individual blood banks and those attached to hospitals as well. If they do not improve the situation, we will revoke their blood bank NOCs,” said Dr. Pawar.

Replacement blood donation is when a hospital asks the friends and relatives of a patient to donate blood to restore the units utilised for the patient. The National Blood Policy formulated in 2002 states that no hospital should depend on replacement donors. The policy says that replacement blood donation should be gradually phased out. “But we found that merely 20% to 30 % blood in many hospitals comes through voluntary camps,” Dr. Pawar said.

Organising blood donation camps involves a lot of effort, such as reserving space, and sparing staff members from hospital work on the day of the camp. Hence, hospitals find it easier to put the responsibility to get donors on the patient’s relatives instead.

Vinay Shetty from Think Foundation, which organises voluntary donation camps, said, “The relatives are already so harrowed. It is absolutely criminal to make them run around to get donors. It has been 15 years since the National Blood Policy demanded a phase-out of replacement donors, and a majority of hospitals are yet to follow the mandate.”

A reply to an RTI query filed by activist Chetan Kothari said 32,684 blood bags were acquired from replacement donors in 2016-17 in Maharashtra. the number has, however, come down from 52,781 in 2012-13, indicating that the State’s performance at organised voluntary camps may have improved.

“We can understand if a hospital is calling for replacements for certain patients in case they don’t have the same blood group available, or have too many patients requiring blood. But that can be only in 10% of the cases. The hospital should collect 90% blood through camps,” said Dr Pawar.

Dr Rajendra Patankar, chief operating officer of Nanavati Hospital, said they organise two to three camps every month. “Now we will increase the frequency to five at least,” he said, adding that the rest of the blood they collect is voluntary too. “We counsel patients’ relatives and ask them to donate to maintain the circle,” he said.

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Printable version | Jul 23, 2021 3:30:34 PM |

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