Jharkhand each year falls short of 1.90 lakh blood units. This may not be a big deal for the affluent, but five-year-old Satyam Shukla battles between life and death in the face of society’s apathy towards blood donation. This kindergarten kid suffers from thalassaemia. He needs blood transfusion every two months. But every time his parents and he has to go through an ordeal to get a donor.
“Nobody turns up for donation. The blood bank at MGM, Jamshedpur, cannot help us with donors but demands an exchange for every bottle of blood we seek,” says Satyam’s father Satyanarayan Shukla.
The family is worried as to how to manage a donor on Sunday, which incidentally coincides with Satyam’s fifth birthday. Satyam’s body makes an abnormal form of haemoglobin and protein in red blood, and to keep the system working blood must be transfused regularly.
“We are at a loss whether to celebrate his birthday or save his life,” said a visibly upset Shukla, a private bank peon in Chakradharpur.
For Satyam, the struggle doesn’t end here. Though he is an AB+, a universal acceptor of any blood group, finding each time the required units through blood bank or a donor becomes an uphill task for him.
The family from the lower income bracket requires `1000 to come down to Jamshedpur to change the blood. “It is an expensive affair. So we try to fix a donor before leaving for change of blood. Till the donor is arranged, his treatment waits,” said Shukla.
Projects of the state government to have a chain of blood banks are in the freezer. None of Jharkhand’s state-run blood banks has records on regular donors who can help others like Satyam.
Family members alleged that the government hospital’s blood bank is facing an acute shortage of blood and has no record of donors who could come at a short notice.
As per rules, Jharkhand’s blood banks should have 3.29 lakh units of blood - 1% of the state’s total population which is 3.29 crore.