With a nationwide shutdown to curb the spread of COVID-19, organising blood donation camps and facilitating the procurement of regular and blood donation has also taken a hit. Though the number of patients admitted in emergency and trauma centers across the city have also whittled down, constant blood transfusion is required in many conditions such as thalassemia, kidney diseases, cancers like leukemia and even some liver disease. Since blood donation camps can no longer be held, nor can volunteer groups be asked to visit blood banks, government hospitals across the city have drawn up rosters of healthcare staff who are donating blood in small groups to avoid overcrowding.
“There are some issues of course with retrieving enough blood and our supply was drying up because fresh blood cannot be preserved for long, not can certain blood components,” said a member of the nursing staff from Government Multi Specialty Hospital in Sector 16. Whole blood and red blood cells can be stored for a period of 35 days, platelets up to five days and plasma can be frozen and preserved for up to a year. The hospital has drawn up a list of healthcare staff who are dropping by individually as and when a certain blood type is required by patients at the hospitals. “So we are making do as of now,” added the nurse.
As for the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Dr RR Sharma, head of the department of transfusion medicine admits that there is a shortage of blood donation, but the hospital has facilitated various additional provisions to meet their blood requirements amidst the pandemic and shutdown. “The need for blood has also reduced subsequently due to the drop in the number of emergency and trauma patients, so we have been able to procure enough donations through our staff members and some voluntary donors who are already registered.
A PGI official said, the number of patients in the emergency ward have reduced from an average of 250-300 per day to 70-75 per day, and the average number of trauma patients has reduced from 100 a day, to 30-35 per day. “So at least we do not have a shortage of supply there,” said the source.
Apart from drawing up a roster of healthcare professionals employed at PGIMER with details of their blood type and characteristics to call upon to donate their blood in a group of four to five at a time, the timings of the blood bank have been extended from 6 pm 9 pm. “This has been done to ensure that more people, in small batches, are able to donate blood throughout the day to prevent overcrowding,” explained Dr Sharma.
However, since depending on the healthcare staff is not enough, PGIMER authorities have also facilitated voluntary blood donations by setting up a special ambulance to fetch voluntary donors from their homes during curfew. “We have also spoken to the Chandigarh DSP for traffic and they have ensured us that they would allow blood donors to commute to PGIMER for voluntary blood donation. The administration has been very co-operative in this way, and I believe we will be able to tackle the crisis while maintaining an adequate supply of blood,” added Dr Sharma.
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