Summer brings to focus on shortage of blood

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Summer vacations and continuous public holidays in the month of April would also mean a shortage of blood in the state, once again pointing towards the need for changes in

Published: 12th March 2012 06:38 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:33 PM   |  A+A-

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Summer vacations and continuous public holidays in the month of April would also mean a shortage of blood in the state, once again pointing towards the need for changes in the structure of blood services.

S Ratheesh, joint secretary of the All-Kerala Blood Donors’ Society says that one of the main reasons for the shortage of blood in summer is the lack of student availability. “Summer is also exam-time for most students in colleges and it is difficult to call them even for emergencies,” he says.

“Usually the volume of blood that we collect from blood donation camps in colleges is much more than we collect from camps elsewhere, such as the residents’ associations and local clubs. While donation camps in colleges are near impossible in summer, the heat turns away the donors from camps organised by residents’ associations. We do not get much of a response as in other months,” says Ratheesh.

The threat of power shortage could further worsen the situation, with possibility of wastage that could happen when the generator also fails to maintain the necessary temperature for blood storage. Wastage also happens when one hospital requires only one particular blood component, say platelets, while the other components may not find any takers.

With various hospitals requiring different blood components, most blood donors as well as medical professionals have been raising a demand for a centralised facility for blood donation and distribution for a long-time now.

So long that a report by an expert committee, chaired by former Director of Medical Education Dr M Balaraman Nair nearly two decades ago, had called for such a structural change in blood services. The committee which had members from the Planning Board, Sree Chitra Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, AIDS control programme and even medical device industry had called for a system analogous to the milk distribution system.

“The unused and unusable blood can be transported back to the Regional Blood Transfusion centres for manufacture of components and blood products, or for disposal, as the case may be,” says the expert panel report.

The major advantage of the system is that the patients and their bystanders do not have to run from pillar to post asking for blood.

Currently the onus is on the patient in most hospitals to find the donors. “In addition to the physical, mental, and financial trauma of hospitalisation, the patient has to undergo the stress and strain of searching for donors, often in a strange town,” says C Balagopal, managing director of Terumo Penpol, who has also been a driving force behind many a blood donation camps.

The mooted centralised facility for blood donation, which can then be distributed to various hospitals would ensure that even if one hospital does not require a particular blood component, another hospital that is in need will actually get it, leading to effective utilisation of available blood.


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