Due to lack of voluntary blood donation, increase in accidents and natural disasters, on-going summer vacations and a rise in temperature, city blood banks are reeling under a blood shortage. “The city which needs at least 1,000 blood bags daily, is finding it difficult to even collect 500 bags of blood from donors,” says Ram Bangad, founder of Raktache Nate, an NGO that connects blood donors and recipients across India, to help bridge the gap between blood availability and requirement at affordable costs
Dr Jitendra Oswal, medical director of Bharati Hospital and blood bank incharge, said, “The shortage is being felt for the last three weeks now. During the months of April and May, many surgeries are planned which are elective and often need blood transfusions.”
“The requirement goes up by 30 per cent and the shortage is felt by 30 per cent. We need 600 bags of blood, but this time we collected 30 per cent less,” said Dr Oswal.
“Cases of voluntary blood donation are going down. Usually, college-going youth donate blood, but as they are on summer vacation blood donation camps are not being conducted,” he added.
Dr N Kadagi, in-charge of the blood bank at Sassoon hospital, said, “People do not want to donate blood due to fear of dehydration due to rising temperatures.”
“Due to heat the body suffer from dehydration and post blood donation one feels even more dehydrated for some minutes. Fearing the same, many donors are denying donating blood,” Dr Kadagi added.
“There are many patients who need blood and we are finding it hard to manage their requirement,” said Dr Kadgi.
She said, daily we need 130 to 150 bags of blood, but now we are not even getting that many.
“We are in talks with blood banks and also a group of interns to arrange blood donation camps. We are hoping to address our issue of shortage of blood urgently,” she said.
A meeting was held this week at Sassoon hospital regarding the growing shortage of blood in the city and ways of addressing it, Dr Kadagi informed.
Kishor Dhumal, public relation officer at KEM hospital’s blood bank, said, “Due to lack of voluntary blood donation we are convincing religious heads of Gurudwara, churches among others to hold camps for us. Also, one needs proper planning while organising such blood donation camps.”
“In our hospital every day at least 50 patients need blood,” Dhumal added.
“Blood is divided into four components of which plasma can be stored for a year rest is stored for five days to 40 days. Plasma is the clear, straw-coloured liquid portion of blood that remains after red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and other cellular components are removed,” he added.
Arun Thorat, assistant director, State Blood Transfusion Council, who agreed to have felt a severe shortage of blood this time of the year said, “The demand for blood has been going up from the last couple of years. The reasons can be attributed to an increase in natural disasters, accidents like collapsing of bridges and an increase in road traffic accidents.”
Ram Bangad, the founder of NGO Raktache Nate, said, “Usually we get ten to fifteen calls in a day for the requirement of blood, but now we attend 50 calls in a day. This shows the crunch and need for blood across the city.”
“Mainly youngsters donate blood in huge numbers, but as colleges are closed for summer vacations blood donation camps are not held frequently,” said Nate.
“Shortage is not restricted to any particular blood group but all types are feeling the crunch. There is a shortage of even the most common blood group that is A +ve and B +ve,” he added.
“To overcome this shortage now, we need a plan, consistency and proper networking between blood banks in the city along with conducting mass blood donations camps,” said Nate.
More camps, monitor collection centres to address blood shortage
State Blood Transfusion Council , accepting a shortage of blood donors at this time of the year, claims that the demand of blood has been going up every year.
Arun Thorat, assistant director, State Blood Transfusion Council, said, “The demand for blood has been increasing in the last couple of years, due to increase in natural disasters, accidents like collapsing of bridges and increase in road traffic accidents.
“All this has made blood an important aspect and lifesaving product in a hospital,” said Thorat.
“There was a shortage of blood in April and May and blood banks were not prepared despite several meetings and instructions given by us to keep enough blood collection,” said Thorat.
“Now, given the failure of the blood banks to meet the expected collection of blood this summer, the state council has instructed to conduct voluntary blood donation camps frequently,” he added.
“There are 336 blood banks in the state and we have instructed them to write to not only the committee of all districts, but also the religious heads, colleges, corporate houses, industries among others and conduct blood donation camps,” he said.
“We will closely monitor the situation and hold a meeting by the end of this month to understand the failures and suggest ways to tackle the shortage in the near future,” added Thorat.
Thorat said, “Only one per cent of the population is required to donate blood to save lives which is not happening. Hence, blood donation camps are mainly organised to fulfil this need.”
If the healthy population donates blood voluntarily they will be no need to hold blood donation camps, he said.
“We are expecting a shortage again in the coming months that is during September and October due to Diwali holidays,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, in the state 11 lakh bags of blood is required, but, “we are managing to collect more than 16 lakh,” according to Thorat.
“In 2016, we collected 16, 02,000 bags of blood, in 2017 we managed 16, 17,000 and in 2018 it was the highest that is 16, 56,000,” he added