Mumbai Families of several patients who required blood transfusions have alleged that private and trust-run hospitals bullied them into replacing blood that was used for surgeries of their relatives. Arvind Bedekar, 35, a Nerul-resident, frantically started calling his friends on July 23, after an Andheri-based trust-run hospital asked him to arrange for six blood donors just ten days before his daughter’s heart surgery, which was due on November 22. It took him all of five days to find donors that matched his daughter’s blood group – AB positive. “The hospital staff said they would not accept blood from any other blood banks. They insisted that I look for donors, bring them to the hospital for the donation,” said Bedekar.“They even said I could arrange for donations after my daughter’s surgery but it was quite clear that arranging the blood was my responsibility and not theirs,” he added.The National Blood Policy clearly states that the responsibility of arranging blood is of the blood bank, and not the patient’s family, and that replacement donation should be phased out.However, acknowledging the rampant practice of replacement blood donation in Maharashtra, the State Blood Transfusion Council (SBTC) issued a circular on July 11, directing blood banks in the city to phase out replacement donations within three months.However, activists who have been rooting for a systematic mechanism of blood donation fear that the practice will not be phased out completely if SBTC does not monitor the hospitals after the stipulated deadline. Vinay Shetty, founder of Think Foundation, said, “Three months is too short a period for all hospitals that indulge in blood replacement. These blood banks will need to take assistance from the SBTC to organise blood donation camps to ensure that the blood banks are stocked up, so that they don’t rely on blood donation arranged by patient’s relatives,” said Shetty.Shetty added that he gets several calls from panic stricken relatives in a day, who out of the fear that the hospital won’t commence the surgery till the blood isn’t replaced, ask for blood donors. “There are some hospitals which didn’t discharge the patient just because his family members weren’t able to replace the blood in their blood bank,” Shetty added.A state official from the SBTC told HT that the government’s 104 blood on call emergency service which delivers blood to patients from state-run blood banks, is snubbed by most private hospitals. “We know that private hospitals even discourage their patient’s families from using this service by saying that they will not accept blood from any other blood bank,” said the official. “They just want donors to physically go to the hospital and donate blood,” he said.