Allow hospitals to hold blood donation camps, say experts

While the World Health Organisation stresses on voluntary blood donation, the ground reality in the city is that several hospitals that account for almost 60 per cent of the demand opt for replacement donation that is largely done under pressure, say experts.
Allow hospitals to hold blood donation camps, say experts
Fact File

Chennai

On any given day, one may come across 20 people posting need for a blood group, seeking at least five volunteers, for a relative undergoing a procedure at a hospital. This perceived gap in the supply of blood is because the hospital doesn’t conduct blood camps since they do not have the license for it. While the blood banks are granted license by the state and central drug control authorities to conduct donation camps, other organisations require license from the state blood transfusion council which is not an easy thing to get.  Dr P Srinivasan, chairman and co-founder Jeevan Blood Bank and Research Centre, says there are multiple agencies involved in the field even though health is a state subject that essentially needs to change and come under one department. 
“The major hospitals that use maximum blood don’t go for blood donation camps because they do not have the license for it. The need of the hour is to allow major hospitals to conduct such camps. We claim that 80 per cent of the donation in the state is voluntary, but when a huge section of hospitals –above 60 per cent- account for the demand go for replacement donation. How can it be voluntary?” he asks. 
“Safety levels come down when it is not voluntary. We at Jeevan have under 20 per cent of repeated donors; this ideally should be above 40 per cent in all blood banks,” Dr Srinivasan adds. Take the case of the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital where there is a requirement of close to 200 units every day. “Most of it is met by blood donation camps and the rest through walk in donors. “About 40 per cent of the donors are regulars,” says Dr S Subash, associate professor HOD, Government General Hospital Blood Bank. He adds that the daily requirements include 150170 units of red cells, 100 platelets for dengue and cancer patients and 150 plasma for burns and fluid loss. “Just after cyclone Vardah, we had a blood donation camp at Gummudipoondi that was affected by the disaster. 
We could mobilise close to 96 units in this camp alone,” he says. It is the effectiveness of voluntary donation that has sought the backing of the state, says N Rajakumar, professor and HOD, transfusion medicine, Government Stanley Medical College.  
“Voluntary and non-remunerative repeated donors can meet the needs and is the ideal way,” he says, adding that the hospital requires close to 70-100 units a day. Private hospitals like SRM Institute of Medical Sciences that require 150 platelets and 150 plasma per month manage without blood donation camps due to the absence of a license. Dr Vijayakumar Chockkan, Director - Medical Services, SIMS, says, “In the case of an emergency or when in need of a rare blood group, we send an SMS to all the employees, then to the medical and engineering colleges, from where students come forward to donate. In some cases, we can manage with blood components.”

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