Other States

Blood stocks in Maharashtra will last for just 10 days

Government calls for mini blood donation camps in a staggered manner

With blood banks in Mumbai running low on stocks, the Lalbaugcha Raja Mandal organised a blood donation camp.

In doing so, the Mandal adhered to the norms of the lockdown. In a large hall, cots were placed at a considerable distance, appeals were sent through social media, and donors were given time slots to avoid crowding. Text messages confirming appointments were sent so that policemen did not stop them mid-way.

Since March 23, the Mandal has collected 1,100 units of blood, which has been supplied to KEM, Sion, Nair, J.J and Cama Hospitals.

As the lockdown continues, the State Blood Transfusion Council (SBTC) has appealed to blood banks, NGOs, housing societies and other organisations to hold mini blood donation camps in a staggered manner to avoid a shortage in the time of COVID-19 outbreak.

“Due to the COVID-19 scare and the lockdown that followed, almost all blood donation camps were cancelled over the past two weeks. But after the appeal by Health Minister Rajesh Tope, some camps were organised,” said an SBTC official.

There is no shortage at the moment, the official said. Mumbai, for example, had stocks that would suffice for eight to 10 days. “We need to plan to that blood banks don’t go dry after that,” he said.

As soon as Mr. Tope sent out an appeal, and the Lalbaugcha Raja Mandal planned the camp. While the camp will conclude on April 1, Prabhadevi’s Siddhivinayak Temple will start its camp on the same day. “Between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., we have managed to get 150 to 200 donors daily. The numbers are small but we wanted to keep it that way to ensure social distancing as well as the necessary hygiene measures,” said Lalbaucha Raja Mandal’s president, Sudhir Salvi.

The State’s daily requirement is about 4,500 to 5,000 blood units while Mumbai requires an average of 1,000 units. “However, the requirement is currently low as many elective surgeries have been postponed and there are not as many accidents because of the lockdown,” said Vinay Shetty from the NGO Think Foundation.

Nevertheless, there are patients with thalassemia or cancer who are dependent on blood transfusions. Emergency surgeries and deliveries too require blood. “We are looking at how to transfer blood from a bank that has units to the bank that has run out of units. We have some camps lined up,” said Mr Shetty.

Another challenge is to assure donors that they are not at the risk of contracting COVID-19 by donating blood, say experts. Dr. Snehal Majumdar, nodal officer of the Pune’s Ruby Hall Clinic’s A.H. Wadia Trust Blood Bank, told The Hindu they had adequate reserves at the moment, but the situation could worsen if the lockdown extended beyond April and no blood donation camps were held.

“As elective surgeries have been put on hold, the immediate demand for blood is less. But then, blood is always required in cases of deliveries, thalassemia, and heart surgeries. Cancer patients have to keep their chemotherapy cycles going as per schedule,” Dr. Majumdar said. The blood bank at Ruby Hall Clinic had an average stock of 900 to 1,000 units, she said.

She also said social distancing measures were being strictly enforced and that the hospital was being stringent about the choice of donors in the wake of the COVID-19 scare.

“We make sure that only five donors are present at a time and a gap of one metre is maintained between them. A strict procedure of history-taking of the donors as per a questionnaire sent to all blood banks by the Indian Society of Blood Transfusion and Immunohaematology is being followed. This questionnaire checks whether the donors have had fever or cough in the past 28 days,” Dr. Majumdar said.

Pune has nearly 30 blood banks and the authorities said they currently have adequate stocks. “We have a stock of 1,000 blood bags which will mainly be required for open heart or cancer surgeries. While this is sufficient at the moment, we will be arranging for fresh donations in the near future,” said a senior official at BJ Medical College.

In districts like Sangli and Kolhapur, with private hospitals virtually shut or operating at 30% of their capacities, blood bank managers say the problem is not so much of shortage as of ‘rationalising’ the available stock in order to avoid wastage.

There are 16 blood banks between Sangli and Miraj tehsils in Sangli district, said Ujjwal Tilve, who manages Dr. Shirgaonkar Blood Bank in the district. “Typically, April, May and June witness high demand of blood given that more people travel during this period and a higher proportion of accidents are seen at this time.”

Sangli and Kolhapur have enough stocks to tide over this period, he said. While the demand had reduced, the problem was about keeping just the right stock of fresh blood so as to preclude any wastage in the near future.

“Platelet blood has a shelf-life of five days while whole blood and red blood cells have a 35-day expiry period. In the event, we stock up more blood anticipating a shortage owing to an extension of the lockdown. There is a risk that this blood may not be used in the future as hospitals demand ‘fresh blood’,” he said.

His blood bank maintained a list of regular donors and that they could call them at a short notice if there is a need, he said.

Related Topics
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jul 2, 2020 4:27:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/blood-stocks-in-maharashtra-will-last-for-just-10-days/article31201671.ece

Next Story