Two months after the State Blood Transfusion Council allowed the transfer of blood between banks, the practice is not very common in Pune yet. Authorities at some blood banks in the city are reluctant to accept blood from another bank due to the lack of uniformity in testing blood. With advances in technology, large hospitals use state-of-the-art machines to provide safe blood at their blood banks. Most exercise caution before taking blood from other banks that do not test blood with automated technology and high-end tests.
For instance, blood banks use automation for blood grouping and cross-matching for diseases like HIV, Hepatitis B and C, with sophisticated techniques such as Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) and others. It may be recalled that the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had, in 2014, taken the decision to allow transfer of blood from one bank to another. Each state’s Blood Transfusion Council had worked on how official transfers could be allowed and issued guidelines accordingly.
In April this year, the Maharashtra State Blood Transfusion Council (SBTC) issued a circular, allowing its 326 blood banks to exchange blood. Arun Thorat, assistant director at the SBTC, told Pune Newsline that the aim was to utilise blood and its components better, and reduce wastage. Dr Dileep Wani, chairperson of Jankalyan chain of blood banks and a member of the State Blood Transfusion Council’s governing body, said the move was a good one and would help during medical emergencies, irrespective of the technology used to test blood.
“For instance, on the WhatsApp group of blood banks across the state, the civil hospital’s blood bank at Kolhapur said it had excess blood, and 70 units was sent to the state government-run Sassoon hospital in Pune,” said Wani. He, however, added that the blood needed to be transported under proper cold chain maintenance. Dr Poornima Rao, senior consultant and in-charge of the blood bank at Sahyadri hospital, said Maharashtra has not made NAT testing of blood mandatory, unlike other states like Rajasthan.
“The priority is to provide safe blood. Each blood bank has a different technology to test blood. Who will shoulder the responsibility in a medico-legal case related to transfused blood,” said Rao. At Ruby Hall Clinic, blood bank in-charge Dr Snehal Mujumdar said the idea of transferring blood from one bank to another was a good one. “However, there are many different methods to test blood, so the quality may vary,” said Mujumdar.