Dengue cases on the rise: Mumbai's blood banks struggle to meet demand

  • Priyanka Vora, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Oct 22, 2014 18:52 IST

Mumbai’s blood banks are witnessing an increase in demand for blood platelets, with a rise in patients being treated for dengue infection.

Doctors said that internal bleeding, resulting from a fall in platelet count, is a common complication in patients with dengue. Platelets is a constituent of blood which helps clot blood. A drop in platelet numbers thins the blood and causes it to leak from blood vessels.

The platelet shortage has worsened owing to the inability of blood banks operators to conduct blood donation camps with the festive season underway.

“We have refused around 30% of requests for blood platelets in the last 45 days. Dengue cases are increasing and hence more patients need platelets,” said Dr Abhijeet Borpadikar, who runs Mahatma Gandhi Seva Mandir Blood Bank in Bandra which has issued about 1,700 units of platelets since September, majorly to patients with dengue.

Unlike blood donation, platelet collection is even more challenging because only a few units of platelets can be derived from the whole blood, which is donated.

“Last week, an employees’ relative who had dengue needed platelets but we had none to issue. Next day, we contacted our regular donors who only donate platelets to overcome the shortage,” said Darshana Upadhyay, administrator, Sarvoday Hospital Samarpan Blood Bank, Ghatkopar, adding that many patients with malaria are also need platelet transfusion.

Just like the Ghatkopar blood bank, many blood bank operators are encouraging the single platelet donors, where donors only donate platelets, which leads to higher collection of platelets.

However, the cost of platelets collected in such a manner would escalate to Rs8,000 to Rs9,000 per unit.

“This week will be critical, given the festive season. We are trying to arrange camps, but the response may not meet the demand for platelets. Doctors should cautiously prescribe platelet transfusion, given the situation,” said Vinay Shetty, Think Foundation, which regularly conducts blood camps in Mumbai.

According to Dr Narendar Kaur Naidu, director, Red Cross Blood Bank the demand for blood platelets has almost doubled this month, compared to September.

“The demand has increased as a result of an increase in dengue cases but we have not refused anyone,” said Naidu.

“Once temperatures decline, we expect the number of cases to go down,” said Dr Yogesh Velaskar, intensivist, Hinduja Healthcare Surgical, Khar.

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