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Medical hub Delhi low on blood

More than 80 per cent people undergoing surgery at Delhi’s seven biggest private and government hospitals do not belong to the Capital. A majority of them are from other states or have come from overseas, resulting in blood shortfall in the city, reports Rhythma Kaul.

delhi Updated: Oct 08, 2009 22:55 IST
Rhythma Kaul

More than 80 per cent people undergoing surgery at Delhi’s seven biggest private and government hospitals do not belong to the Capital. A majority of them are from other states or have come from overseas, resulting in blood shortfall in the city.

According to World Health Organisation guidelines, demand for blood is held at one per cent of a city’s population. Going by the WHO principle, the capital’s two-crore population needs 2 lakh units (200,000 lakh units) of blood.

“Delhi’s 53 blood banks collect double the demand — about four lakh units of blood every year— through voluntary donations and blood replacements,” said Dr Vanshree Singh, director blood bank, Indian Red Cross.

“But since many people come to the Capital for high-end procedures like transplants or heart bypass surgeries, the blood requirement increases by 25 per cent.” Ideally, one per cent of the total population should regularly donate blood to meet the requirement.

“If we look at Delhi alone, we meet the demand, but not if we factor in the external population. With Commonwealth Games round the corner, there is even more reason to strengthen our voluntary donation system,” said Dr Vanshree Singh, director blood bank, Indian Red Cross.

According to the Indian Red Cross, 40 per cent of blood donation is voluntary. Fifty per cent of the major surgeries —liver and kidney transplants, bypass surgeries, cancer surgeries and hip and knee replacements — done annually at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital is done on overseas patients.

About 35 per cent patients come from other states and only 15 per cent patients are Delhi residents. The same is true for other private hospitals like Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals and Max HealthCare, where 50 per cent major surgeries are done on overseas patients from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq. Patients from many African countries also come here for treatment.

“Some major surgeries like heart and liver transplant can be done here at much cheaper rates compared to the West, and that’s what attracts overseas patients. All this increases patient load, and with it the demand for blood,” said a senior cardiologist at the All India Institute of Medical sciences (AIIMS), who did not wish to be named.

Major government-run referral hospitals in the city like AIIMS, Safdarjung and Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) cater to a huge population from rural and semi-urban areas across the country. Rough estimates put major surgical procedures on non-Delhiites at 80 to 90 per cent.

Major surgical procedures also require many units of blood, such as trauma surgeries, which in some cases may need even 100 units of blood. “On an average, we line up 10 donors from the patient’s family before doing a liver transplant to meet the blood and blood component demand,” said Dr Subhash Gupta, a liver transplant surgeon at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.