In the last three days, at least 6,338 people have donated blood in 100 camps set up across the state to address the blood shortage for thalassemia, sickle cell and haemophilia patients. Maharashtra on Monday had 28,760 units of blood, which state officials said, will help resolve blood shortage for a few days.
Since last week when state officials, political parties and ministers, including Health Minister Rajesh Tope who himself donated blood, have pushed citizens to donate, several camps have seen a good turnout. On December 11, 688 people donated blood which rose to 1,930 on December 12, when several political parties encouraged blood donation camps to mark NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s birthday. On December 13, donors further rose to 2,200 people.
Until December 10, there were 22,536 blood units which rose to 28,760 in four days by Monday. Officials said as more blood banks update their records, the stock may further rise. But state health officials have warned that a sustained awareness campaign will be required to keep the number of donors steady.
“The turnout in the last four days is the maximum we have seen since the pandemic began,” said Dr Arun Thorat, in-charge of State Blood Transfusion Council (SBTC). He added that SBTC has taken up blood shortage and problems faced by patients of blood disorder very seriously. Last week, SBTC wrote to all blood banks, warning of penalty if anyone charged processing fees or beyond government-capped rates from blood disorder patients. “We gave a week to all blood banks to comply. From next week, notices will be issued to those who flout norms,” he said.
Since March, when lockdown shut colleges and corporate offices, all 287 blood banks in Maharashtra have been facing a deficit. Most banks are asking patients to get replacement donors. Routine donations have come to a halt with regular donors hesitant in donating blood. With blood transfusion required every fortnight or so, thalassemia patients remain worst-affected during this pandemic.
Dr Hitesh Pagare, from JJ blood bank, said the latest donation drive will allow blood banks to provide free units to thalassemia patients with no compulsion to bring a replacement donor for at least a few days. “We organised a blood camp at four Shiv Sena branches and managed to get 440 units. If people continue to donate, thalassemia patients will not have to worry about finding replacement donors,” Pagare said.
Some donation camps clocked big numbers in the last three days, including in Navi Mumbai APMC where 1,200 units were collected. State officials said Sant Nirankari Mission also held multiple camps. The next push for donation, officials said, will be in January around Republic Day.
Last week, SBTC also issued a defaulter’s list of blood banks who were not updating details of their stock on the state website. In Mumbai, Ashirwad blood bank, Breach Candy and Masina hospital bank were issued warnings following which they began updating their data.
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