Blood donations that usually drop during the holiday seasons is yet to take off this year, with blood banks across the city facing a severe scarcity, especially of the blood groups B positive and AB.
Blood banks said there is usually a sharp fall in donations around Diwali, as people go on vacations, but the shortage this year has lasted longer than usual. Dr Kishore Jha, the blood bank officer at the Mahatma Gandhi Seva Mandir blood bank, Bandra, said,“At any point, we have a stock of 500 units of all blood groups, which is sufficient. But right now, we have about 30-40 units of blood. Although there is a dip in blood donations after Diwali for some days, this year it has extended for a long time,” he said.
The staff at the state-run JJ Mahanagar blood bank, Byculla, said they have been facing a shortage for three weeks. “We have had to refuse people who need a lot of blood,” said a staff member of the blood bank.
The Red Cross Blood Bank at Fort has 19 units of blood, compared to the 100 units that make up their ‘adequate supply’. “We have kept the stock reserved only for Thalassemia patients,” said Mangesh Sawant, a technician.
The shortage has hit patients and their families. Sunil Shah (name changed), a Goregaon resident, said he had a very hard time arranging for blood for his 29-year old son who has Thalassemia, an inherited blood disorder in which the body makes an abnormal form of protein haemoglobin.
“My son’s blood group is B positive and requires three units of blood every 15 days. We called all blood banks and they all told us they do not have it. As we are travelling on Monday, one blood bank has called a donor to come and donate,” he said.
To add to the problem, said doctors, is that many donors are rejected after the holiday season as they come back with small or major health problems. “If these people are on medication or have taken over-the-counter pills such as Crocin and Brufen, we can’t accept their blood,” said a doctor from a Ghatkopar blood bank.
Vinay Shetty, founder of Think Foundation, an NGO that organises blood donation camps, said they have been getting requests from many blood banks to organise camps. “We face this problem after Diwali every year. Our phones have been constantly ringing.”