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Thursday, August 05, 2021

Pune: Blood banks face acute shortage, scarcity of donors

Vaccinations, especially for age group of 18 to 44, have picked up in the city. Those who receive the jab, however, have to wait for 14 days to donate blood. Moreover, from June 21, vaccinations were made free of cost at government-run centres.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
Updated: July 7, 2021 8:48:11 am
Organisations are making efforts, but authorities have to reject some candidates as they have not completed the 14-day mandatory period after a vaccine dose for blood donation. (Representational)

BLOOD BANKS attached to hospitals are facing acute shortage in the absence of blood donation camps, leading to a significant drop in the number of voluntary donors in June. Arranging for blood has now become a challenge for hospital authorities and several have urged people to come forward and donate blood before they receive the Covid-19 vaccine.

Vaccinations, especially for age group of 18 to 44, have picked up in the city. Those who receive the jab, however, have to wait for 14 days to donate blood. Moreover, from June 21, vaccinations were made free of cost at government-run centres. With a decline in Covid-19 cases, the number of elective surgeries, transplants and trauma cases have gone up.

The current shortage has, however, made it challenging for blood banks to arrange for blood for patients suffering from thalassaemia, haemophilia and other blood-related illnesses. Dr Poornima Rao, senior consultant at Sahyadri Specialty Hospital’s blood bank, told The Indian Express that there was an acute shortage of blood.

“Since a fortnight now, few blood donation drives have been organised. Colleges are shut and a voluntary blood donor has to wait 14 days after getting the jab. Major surgeries are being lined up and, hence, we are urging more people to donate blood,” said Dr Rao, who is also secretary of Indian Society of Blood Transfusion and Immunohaematology, Maharashtra chapter.

There are 22 to 23 blood banks in Pune city and, at large hospitals with blood banks, the monthly collection was generally from 1,200 to 1,400 donors. According to Dr Sanjeev Ketkar, in-charge of the blood bank at Deenanath Mangeshkar hospital, there were approximately 1,400 donors in April and 1,200 in May.

“However, blood donation drives have dried up and camps have not been held. This is largely as the vaccination drive has opened up for the 18+ age group and has picked up at a rapid pace. So donors have to wait 14 days before they can donate,” Dr Ketkar said.

“Covid cases have also come down and the demand for blood component units has escalated. In June, we could barely get 532 donors and they were mainly our hospital consultants and nurses,” Dr Ketkar added.

At Ruby Hall Clinic, Dr Snehal Mujumdar, in-charge of the blood bank, said there were limited blood donation drives being held. “At least 80 per cent blood collection is through these drives. While Ganesh mandals, IT firms and NGOs are supporting us, the collection is inadequate. The requirement for blood component units is now back at pre-Covid levels. There is a need for at least 1,800 to 2,000 units,” Dr Mujumdar said.

Organisations are making efforts, but authorities have to reject some candidates as they have not completed the 14-day mandatory period after a vaccine dose for blood donation. For instance, at Chavanwadi village in Shirur tehsil of Pune district, Ruby Hall Clinic’s blood bank had expected minimum 80 donors at a blood donation drive organised by gram panchayat, but could enlist only 40 donors as others had got their vaccine dose and not completed 14 days.

Santosh Langhe, sarpanch of Chavanwadi actively involved in organising the blood donation drive, said another reason was that 10 to 11 people had died of Covid-19 in their village and there was fear among the people. “Some of our youngsters have also recently got the vaccine dose and cannot donate for the next 14 days,” Langhe said, adding that there was a need to step up awareness about the issue.

Ram Bangad, president of Raktache Naate, a charitable trust that encourages blood donation said there was a shortage of blood and voluntary blood donors should donate. Bangad, who has donated blood 149 times and plasma 15 times (the latest being on June 17), said earlier there were more than 200 donors at a blood donation camp. The numbers had drastically dropped and efforts were on to motivate at least 10 to 15 people. Blood banks have insisted on replacement of blood donors and ‘Raktache Naate’ team has been sending volunteers .”There is fear among people and, for those who have taken the vaccine dose, a crucial fortnight is lost as they cannot donate,” he said. Bangad and his team are, however, organising blood donation drives on July 11 and 17.

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