Mumbai blood banks run dry this Diwali, leave patients in lurch
Estimates suggest at least 1,000 people are required to donate blood daily to meet Mumbai’s blood requirement and doctors hope the shortage won’t last long.
Mumbai has been facing a shortage of blood supply since last week as very few blood donation camps were conducted because of Diwali.
According to Vinay Shetty, who heads an NGO called Think Foundation, relatives of patients have frantically reached out to him as they could not find blood in the banks.
Estimates by the foundation suggest at least 1,000 people are required to donate blood daily to meet the city’s blood requirement. “While there is a shortage of all blood components, it is particularly severe for platelets as they have a shelf life of just five days,” Shetty said.
The six-monthly reports of the three largest medical facilities of the city – KEM, LTMG Sion and BYL Nair hospitals – indicated that despite collecting 11,375 units, 7,254 units and 6,507 units of blood respectively through blood camps, the hospitals had to buy 5,343 units, 113 units and 1,055 units of blood from other blood banks due to the shortage.
Dr Hemant Deshmukh, dean, KEM Hospital, said the shortage is unlikely to last long as a number of NGOs have come in support of major hospitals to arrange blood camps and fill the shortage.
“We have a busy schedule of blood donation camps for the next month to ensure there will be no shortage. Usually, during festive seasons, the number of planned surgeries decreases and thus, the requirement of blood decreases. Nonetheless, adequate measures are taken to ensure patients don’t suffer,” Deshmukh said.
Medical experts said thalassemia and leukaemia patients suffered a lot due to the shortage as they need blood transfusion frequently. Reshma Aara, 32, a mother of a four-and-half-year-old girl who is undergoing chemotherapy for blood cancer at the civic-run KEM hospital, Parel, said that on the day of Diwali, the hospital’s blood bank asked them to arrange for platelets from another hospital.
“There was a shortage but we luckily got it from JJ Hospital’s blood bank,” she added. An official from KEM blood bank said the shortage is due to inadequate blood camps.
“Owing to vacations, there have not been many blood camps, hence the shortage,” the official said. An on-duty official from JJ Mahanagar blood bank also gave the same reason for the unavailability of blood.
The State Blood Transfusion Council (SBTC) had anticipated the shortage and had conducted meetings with religious organisations requesting them to hold camps ahead of Diwali. Dr Arun Thorat, assistant director, SBTC, said there was a poor response as many donors are travelling.