In April, when Nidhi Gupta's (name changed on request) father was diagnosed with typhoid, he had to undergo blood transfusion due to a low haemoglobin count.
The private hospital where he was admitted asked Gupta, 28, to organise 50 donors of any blood group to replace the units of blood given to her father.
"The person manning the hospital's blood bank kept insisting that I organise replacement donors. It was a nightmare to get so many donors," recalled Gupta. Finally, Gupta's colleagues donated blood on her request.
Gupta's ordeal is not an isolated case. Whenever a patient is given blood transfusion in a hospital or nursing home, relatives are asked to get donors to replace the units of blood used.
This practice of seeking replacement of blood contravenes the national blood policy formulated after the Supreme Court in 1996 banned commercial blood donation. On Friday, the state government, while formulating a policy to regulate blood banks, asked all hospitals to stop seeking replacement donors.
Gupta, whose father died in May, said that the government should ensure hospitals adhere to the policy.
Those who work in the field of blood transfusion say that they get a number of calls from people seeking blood donors every day.
"On Friday, I got one from a person who wanted O-negative group blood. I was willing to arrange it, but the hospital insisted that they get a donor," said Vinay Shetty, vice president, Think Foundation, an NGO that works with thalassaemia patients.
Shetty said that the onus of organising blood should lie with hospitals, and not with patients or their relatives. "Many private hospitals do not take the responsibility of organising blood donation drives," said Shetty.
Hospital authorities say that they do not pressurise patients to get donors.
"We never force anybody. As per the hospital policy, it is always a voluntary decision and often relatives offer to donate blood," said Dr Gustad Davar, medical director, Hinduja Hospital.