COVID-19: Shortage in Odisha blood banks

People are finding it tough to get access to blood in the state's 83 blood banks

By Ashis Senapati
Published: Monday 13 April 2020
A youth donates blood in Odisha. The state faces a dip in blood donations amid the lockdown Photo: Ashis Senapati__

Blood banks across Odisha face huge shortages because of a sharp drop in the number of donors, amid the 21-day nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Several people are finding it increasingly tough to find blood in 83 blood banks — including 27 privately owned banks — across the state.

It took Kailash Parida — a resident of Icchapur village in Kendrapara district — 12 hours to arrange a bottle of B-positive blood for his wife, Madhusmita.

“She gave birth to twins through a caesarean operation. One of them was stillborn,” he said.

Blood is necessary for expecting mothers and patients who suffer from anaemia, leukaemia, thalassaemia and several other diseases related to blood.

Donation camps conducted by several voluntary organisations, clubs, non-profits and religious organisations in the state, were halted because of the lockdown.

The banks, as a result, suffered a dip in contributions, raising fears that several patients in need would not have access to blood, said Dinabandhu Panda, the director of Blood Safety, a government-run organisation that comes under the state’s Health and Family Welfare Department.

The state needed 4,000 units of blood every day, with around 3,000 units being collected every day, according to Panda.

Mobile collection camps across the state were conducted on April 11, 2020, he said.

“Arranging blood for patients would be a big problem if the situation worsens. We are now forced to tell patients’ relatives to find donors with the required blood group,” he added.

All blood transfusion councils of the state were directed by the National Blood Transfusion Council of India (NBTCI) to adapt the guidelines for proper blood transfusion services amid the pandemic.

Any person with a travel history, contact history or confirmed infection by the virus (SARS-CoV-2), has to be excluded from blood donation, according to the guidelines.

The NBTCI also stated that a donor has to report back to a blood centre or camp organiser within 14 days of donating the blood, on showing symptoms of being infected by the virus.

The person must then be referred appropriately for further management by the Blood Centre Medical Officer.

The blood or blood components collected from such individuals should be discarded, according to Panda.

It was high time for the state government to begin conducting blood donation camps to increase the capacity of blood banks, said Amarabara Biswal, a social worker.

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