May 25, 2021 3:35:15 am
For over six weeks, the parents of a nine-year-old girl scouted blood banks across Vadodara and neighbouring towns, looking for a bottle of AB+ blood for her regular transfusion for Thalassemia. They could manage it only last week, after the girl’s haemoglobin level dropped drastically.
Anshul Goel of Vadodara-based Boond Thalassemia Foundation, who himself is a Beta-Thalassemic Major and helped the parents find a donor, says, “By the time she found a donor, her haemoglobin levels were under seven. Due to the Covid pandemic and vaccination drive, finding donors has become extremely difficult. The availability of blood in the city has dropped to alarming levels, causing difficulty to Thalassemia major patients and others who are dependent on transfusions every 15-20 days.”
Goel’s foundation, in association with its partner blood bank Shree Jalaram Blood Bank of Vadodara, is organising a blood donation camp on May 30 at the Parsi Agyiari compound in Sayajigunj, to gather at least 50 units of blood for Thalassemia patients. The event is backed by local organisations like Aastha Thalassemia Trust and Friends Society, and groups of youngsters from Scientific Community and We are the Future Group.
“The idea is to gather donors as many donors as possible, following Covid protocols… Although the blood bank will prioritise Thalassemia transfusions, it will not be out of reach for anyone in need of blood,” Goel said.
He added that in addition to the pandemic and the government health guidelines restricting persons taking vaccine shots from donating blood for 14 days, the holy month of Ramzan also added to the shortage. “A lot of regular donors from the Muslim community could not donate blood due to the month-long fast… We are hoping that in the coming weeks, it will be easier to find blood.”
Dr Vijay Shah, Vadodara city BJP president, who also runs Indu Blood Bank, said, “Very few people voluntarily donate blood during this pandemic. Covid guidelines do not allow gathering at a blood camp. We conducted 75 smaller blood donation camps but it does not meet the need… The requirement of blood has increased over the past few days and finding plasma donors is more difficult.”
Shah says that the increased demand for blood may also be due to surgeries that were deferred in non-Covid hospitals being taken up now. “There is no demand for blood in Covid hospitals. But in non-Covid hospitals, where planned surgeries were postponed due to the second wave, the demand is picking up,” Shah said.
According to Shah, AB+ and all Rh-negative blood groups are difficult to find even in regular times and the pandemic and vaccination drive have only widened the gap. “As far as shortage of blood for Thalassemia patients is concerned, at our blood bank, we adopt the recipient between a group of four donors of the same blood group so that one of them is available every two to four weeks.” Currently, nearly 100 Thalassemia patients are in need of regular transfusions in Vadodara.
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