Delhi, a medical hub and a referral centre, faces an acute shortage of blood every summer. This is because college students, who donate most of the blood, leave the city during summer vacations.
“We collect around 2,000-2,500 units of blood every month and 95% of the donations are voluntary. Replacement donors from families who need the blood make the remaining donations. Most of the voluntary donations are made by colleges,” said Dr Vanashree Singh, director of the blood bank, Indian Red Cross Society.
During scorching summers, the collection goes down by 15-20% at city blood banks. This has prompted them to look for donors elsewhere.
“We organise around 350 camps every year. During the summer vacation, we focus on donors from multi-national companies to make up for the shortage,” said Dr Singh, adding that religious institutions and various other groups also come to their aid.
The Rotary Blood Bank uses its mobile vans to collect blood from people at malls or those travelling on the Metro. “We organise these mobile camps every summer when we face a shortage,” said Raj, manager of the Rotary Blood Bank.
These camps are organised to stock blood to meet the high demand during dengue season.
“We have to maintain a stock of blood and collection kits too. We ask our staff not to take any leaves during the period and the demand for blood and platelets soars during monsoon,” said Dr Singh.
Delhi faces a shortage of roughly 1 lakh units of blood every year. As many as 6.5 lakh units are needed every year, whereas blood banks across the city only collect 5.5 lakh units.
“The WHO norms state there must be 10 donations per 1,000 people. If there are 2 crore people living in Delhi, there must be 2 lakh donations. More than 5 lakh blood units are donated and yet there is a shortage because blood intensive procedures -- cardiovascular surgeries, cancer treatment -- take place here,” said Dr Singh.
The shortage is also a result of reduced access. “There are many hospitals and nursing homes in Delhi and not all of them have a tie-up with blood banks. The patients have to go from one blood bank to the other in search of the blood or blood component they require,” said Dr Rajan.
On the World Blood Donor Day on June 14, the Centre announced it would set up a state-of-the-art blood collection and storage centre in Dwarka. The centre will enhance Delhi’s blood storage capacity by 1 lakh units.
“The land has already been earmarked and the centre will be built in about two years. It will have the best facility and equipment for collecting, storing and segregating blood components. The blood provided would also be NAT (Nucleic Acid Amplification Testing) screened, the best technology available in the country,” said Dr Shobhini Rajan, assistant director general of National AIDS Control Organisation.