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Life depends on it

The TTK Blood Bank maintains rigid quality standards.

The TTK Blood Bank maintains rigid quality standards.  

It's crucial to have reliable sources for blood. The TTK Blood Bank is one such

BLOOD IS an absolute necessity for medical treatment. It takes a great deal of hard work and commitment to source blood, test it for appropriate properties, and store it in hygienic conditions. The TTK Blood Bank, which operates under the Bangalore Medical Services Trust (BMST) with Captain V.V.K. Mani as its Chairman, collects blood, screens it for syphilis, malaria parasite, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV I and II, and maintains a rigid quality control and assurance programme for 10,000 to 12,000 units of blood it collects per year. The bank, a regional transfusion centre set up in 1984 under the trust, received financial support from the Rotary Club of Bangalore for its building and from the Rotary International for its equipment. The trust now has blood storage and issue centres at several Government and private hospitals, helping people from all over the State as well as from outside.

The BMST also runs The Arun Kumar Transfusion Centre that provides day-care transfusion and related services for patients with thalassemia, haemophilia, and haematological disorders. The Arun Kumar Transfusion Centre is named after Arun Kumar, a trustee, who passed away on his 40th birthday owing to leukaemia. "He did a lot to get the building ready. His wife was very helpful," recalls Latha Jagannathan, who co-ordinates the blood bank's activities.

The P.T. Kasturi Memorial Histo-compatibility Laboratory carries out tissue typing (Human Leukocyte Antigen-HLA) and matching tests required for organ transplantation. The Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) Laboratory for HLA screening and the testing for infectious diseases receive support also from the India-Canada Collaborative HIV/AIDS Project (ICHAP).

The trust has provided technical knowhow and support to blood banks in India that include Chennai, Vishakapatnam, Vijayawada, Mysore, Mangalore, Sringeri and New Delhi. It even has a blood bank in Colombo and the Government of Bangladesh has sought help on setting up of national blood transfusion services there.

Latha Jagannathan, who co-ordinates the Rotary-TTK Blood Bank here, says that the average donor is in the age group of 18 to 35. They come largely from the corporate sector. Prior to donation, they are briefed on all the safety norms. "We have a very stringent questionnaire that outlines risk factors. We tell them who a safe donor is. If donors do carry risk factors, they do mention it and offer not to donate blood. Protecting the patient is crucial. This is perhaps the first blood bank that has such stringent measures," says Dr. Latha. The blood bank detected just one case of HIV +ve in the 7,000 donations over six months — validating their safety-first principle.

Patients can turn up at the blood bank as blood is readily available. In fact, the blood that is available here is so safe and reliable that patients don't have to battle with last minute tensions of finding a "replacement donor". The blood bank steers clear of paid donors too.

The blood bank has satellite blood storage and issue centres at the K.C. General Hospital, Malleswaram, The Bangalore Hospital and Chinmaya Hospital. More hospitals have come in with requests for such centres. "We should have a centralised collection and testing centre," observes Dr. Latha.

The centre receives over 50 per cent of its patients from outside Bangalore — such as Gulbarga and Vellore. "The patients come once every month for transfusion. If they are Thalassemia or Haemophilia patients, they have to for life."

The blood bank focuses on AIDS prevention and has been working with adolescents for over 10 years now, says Dr. Latha. AIDS prevention was made part of school curriculum, but did not take off well until The Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society trained high school teachers to train students in AIDS prevention. A pilot project was then initiated in over 50 schools. The blood bank teaches students on avoiding risk behaviour. "We conduct the activities related to abstinence, behaviour and condoms. We tell them why they should not risk sexual activity and the like," Dr. Latha observed.

PRASHANTH G.N.

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