March 23, 2021 11:22:01 pm
THE CITY is reeling from an acute shortage of blood with government banks demanding replacement donors, while some private banks are charging an exorbitant amount to give blood to thalassaemia patients.
According to government norms, thalassaemia patients must be provided blood free of cost at private and government blood banks.
Dr Arun Thorat, incharge of State Blood Transfusion Council, said they were in the process of starting a system where each blood bank will get a quota of thalassaemia patients to cater to every month. “This will ensure that the load on some blood banks, like Sion, KEM and JJ, is reduced and private banks also chip in to help thalassaemia patients,” Dr Thorat said.
Ujwala Dixit’s son Ravi (11), a thalassaemia patient, requires blood transfusion every 12 days. “We visited six blood banks, no one had B-positive blood group. We visited Samarpan bank. They charged us Rs 1,700 for one unit of blood,” Dixit said.
She also said she even showed the bank a government identity card issued in Ravi’s name that allows free supply. “The bank official said they are facing a shortage and can only sell blood. I was helpless at that point, so I agreed,” she said.
A domestic help, she borrowed Rs 2,000 from a local moneylender and paid for the blood on March 19. Two receipts from the bank show a processing fee of Rs 1,700 and Rs 300.
The SBTC said private banks selling blood to thalassaemia patients will face action. “We will inquire into this case,” Dr Thorat said.
Darshana Upadhyay from Samarpan blood bank did not respond to calls or messages.
Vekatesh Balram, father of Mira (10), said since the beginning of February, blood banks were demanding a replacement donor. “This issue persisted till last November, was resolved for two months and now again there is a shortage in every bank,” he said, adding, “it is not possible to find someone to donate blood every 15 days.”
Even government blood banks like Sion, KEM and JJ are asking thalassaemia patients to get a replacement donor. The blood donation drives increased last December and this January, with 1.94 lakh blood units and 1.53 lakh units collected. In February, with a surge in Covid-19 cases, the collection went down to 1.18 lakh, a 39 per cent drop in two months.
“There is shortage and we are dependent on trusts and NGOs to hold donation camps. Our monthly collection has gone down from 2,000 units to 1,000 to 1,500, but demand remains 2,000 per month,” said Dr Hitesh Pagare, incharge at JJ blood bank.
The public health department has urged state Health Minister Rajesh Tope to appeal to people for donation.
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