Blood is meant to circulate, donate: A thriving business in blood

Blood is meant to circulate, donate: A thriving business in blood
Highlights

Blood is Meant to Circulate, Donate: A Thriving Business in Blood. Lack of coordination between donors, blood banks, regulators, hospitals and receivers is leading to wastage of blood because of no takers and contrastingly severe shortage of blood in case of emergencies like accidents.

• Lack of coordination between donors, blood banks, regulators, hospitals and receivers is leading to wastage of blood because of no takers and contrastingly severe shortage of blood in case of emergencies like accidents

• 25-30 per cent of blood collected at donation camps goes down the drain

Shravan, a 19-year-old Hyderabadi, left home with a promise to his mother that he will get a pundit for his father’s death ceremony. But little did he know what was in store for him on that fateful day. En route, his bike lost balance and he was run over by a truck. He bled profusely and was taken to a government hospital in Secunderabad, where he was given three bottles of blood. The family members were asked to arrange for a few more donors of AB -ve blood, which is the rarest blood group. After trying frantically, the family managed to put a scroll on a TV channel requesting donors. Reacting furiously to the scrolling, the doctors at the government hospital wanted them to remove the scroll and said that they had the required blood for the patient. Term it as fate or the doctors’ negligence, the family’s delay or the onlookers ingorance, Shravan died that same night.

This incident has left a question, which the medical fraternity will need to answer. Is there a shortage of blood or is it kept in store for VIPs? Does blood go waste in the blood banks?

An upcoming blood donation drive to be held this weekend has been hyped through innumerable hoardings, many social organizations; corporates are giving a lot of importance to blood donation and people have realised and believe: “Blood is meant for circulation, donate.” Yet there is shortage.

As per national data, India needs 8.5 million odd units annually as against some 5 to 5.5 million units that are collected. However, the question is how much of blood collected, mostly through blood donation camps, go down the drain?

What is distressing is the fact that while a blood bank is created to ensure instant blood to patients particularly during emergencies, family members and relatives have to often run helter-skelter to get blood for their loved ones who may be battling for life.

In several emergencies, it is seen that people face severe hardships in arranging blood for the patients. On most occasions, they are denied blood from the blood banks in hospitals and are asked to arrange it at their own.

On an average, every year close to three lakh units of blood is collected in the 73 blood banks of the State capital. And yet, large numbers of blood bags expire before reaching the needy on time. Contrastingly, the average annual demand for blood in the twin cities is just 2.5 lakh units.

The demand and supply scenario of blood throughout the State is quite different. According to official figures, close to ten lakh units of blood are collected every year in 224 blood banks of the State while the total demand is pegged at 8.2 lakh units.

Lack of coordination between donors, blood banks, regulators, hospitals and receivers is leading to wastage of blood because of no takers and contrastingly severe shortage of blood in case of emergencies like accidents.

Doctors and NGOs point out that lack of coordination is leading to criminal wastage of blood whenever voluntary organisations conduct mega blood donation camps. Nearly 40 per cent of the blood collected during such camps should be sent to government hospitals. But that seldom happens. Doctors estimate that 20 to 30 per cent of the blood collected in such donation camps is wasted because the blood does not reach the needy on time or there are deficiencies in storage facilities. In many cases, a demand is created and the blood is sold at a higher price.

Joseph, who was a manager at the IMTR blood bank which was shut down last year, says there are 8 blood groups of which O+ve group is abundant. As it is abundant it goes waste. “Yes, blood does go waste in several blood banks. Blood banks which are commercial sell blood to those blood banks which are not authorised, who in turn sell it to individuals. This creates a demand-supply gap. In other countries there is an antibody test conducted and any group blood can be donated to any group. There is a shortage of blood in summer in abundance in June, July and August,” he added.

“There seems to be a lack of proper storage, handling facilities. Also qualified technicians at many blood banks and many of such units are not available. Because of all this, the blood bags reach their expiry date and no one even bats an eye. Even among the components, red blood cells have a shelf life of 42 days, platelets 5 days—among this again some are wasted at hospitals,” said Dr Radhakrishna, retired lab technician from Osmania General Hospital.

For an industry whose safety standards are carefully scrutinised and governed by the medical laws, the ‘bloody’ business remains highly unregulated and surprisingly inefficient.

While it is true that blood does go waste, this does not mean that we stop donating. Somewhere, there is a man, a woman or maybe even a small child, who, in their moment of desperation, are given the opportunity to heal because you donated blood. There seems to be a social contract that says that your donation will be used with respect and care.

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