‘Stock in blood banks in Maharashtra to last for a week’
A fall in blood collections due to Covid-19 pandemic has seen blood banks in Maharashtra being left with stock for just a week, down from the buffer of 15-20 days that was maintained earlier.
Officials from the State Blood Transfusion Council (SBTC) have attributed this to a decline in blood donation camps and lower footfalls of donors due to the pandemic and closure of offices and educational institutions, which affected donations by the youth.
A decrease in blood donations had late last week seen the Tata Memorial Centre (TMC) issuing a public appeal seeking donors.
“The blood banks have stocks of around 25,500 units of blood, which can last for a week. Normally, blood banks maintain stocks for up to 20 days, but these have dwindled to just a week. We have appealed to social and religious organisations to hold blood donation camps while adhering to the government’s pandemic protocols,” said SBTC assistant director Dr Arun Thorat, adding that the blood collection graph had been fluctuating since the onset of Covid-19.
According to Dr Thorat, while blood donation camps had taken place, the collections did not touch the pre-pandemic levels amid fears of contracting Covid-19 as well as vaccination of donors and restriction on gatherings. While donation camps saw between 100 and 150 bags of blood collected earlier, the numbers have dwindled to around 40-50 now.
The state sees around 3,000 to 4,000 bags of blood being used daily, with the usage varying across districts and hospitals.
The work-from-home policies adopted across companies and the shutting down of educational institutions during the pandemic have led to a fall in blood collection among those in the 18-44 age group, which accounts for a majority of donors. Blood has a shelf life of around 35 days and hence, cannot be stored for long.
Maharashtra has 350 registered and licensed blood banks, of which 76 are run by the state government and municipal corporations, 13 by private bodies, 12 by the Red Cross and the rest by trusts.
As per the National AIDS Control Organisation’s (NACO) guidelines, blood collection should be equivalent to 1% of the population. However Maharashtra, which has an estimated population of 125 million, saw around 1,546,000 units of blood being collected last year, compared to 1,723,000 units in 2019. Over 99% of these collections are from voluntary donors. The state tops the country in blood donation.
One bag of blood can be separated into different components such as packed red blood cells (PRBC), platelet concentrates, fresh frozen plasma and cryoprecipitate.
SBTC was set up as an autonomous body in 1966 by the state government to ensure safe and affordable supply of blood. The state also grants free blood to registered thalassemia, haemophilia and sickle cell anaemia patients.