Delhi just about breaks even when it comes to meeting the requirement for blood. In 2011, Delhi collected about 4.5 lakh units of blood. This collection was 80 per cent by way of replacement blood donation and 20 per cent by way of voluntary donation.
Besides charging a steep amount towards the costs of testing blood after donation, all hospitals have made it mandatory for people to provide replacement blood donation.
"Since voluntary donations in India are poor, replacement donation was made a rule. But NACO gradually wants to do away with replacement donation," said Dr Bharat Singh, director, state blood transfusion council and blood bank in-charge Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital in east Delhi.
"Had it not been for the mandatory replacement, Delhi would never be able to meet the demand," he added.
"Although the National Blood policy drafted by NACO states that replacement blood donation should be phased out slowly and all donations should be voluntary, there are no signs of this happening," said a doctor from Lok Nayak.
"In my department alone, at least five such patients are refused blood every day as they don't have donors. This mandatory replacement is responsible for illegal blood sales," he said.
Doctors across hospitals agree that replacement blood donation should be done away with at the earliest. "About 40 per cent of Delhi's patients are from other states and not everyone has donors. This mandatory replacement either forces people to buy blood from crooks or die helpless," said a gynaecologist from Safdarjung Hospital.
"If there was a proactive system of networking between blood banks and increased efforts for collecting blood by way of camps, replacement donation could be done away with," said a senior doctor from Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital in west Delhi.