Bhopal: Blood down for the count, thalassemia patients cry

BHOPAL: A four-year-old thalassemia patient Shiva Rajput needed blood on Monday, but it was not available, because coronavirus forced blood donors to remain indoors.

Father of Shiva, Manjit Rajput, a farmer and resident Intkhedi Bhopal, took Shiva to the blood bank at Hamidia Hospital. He had to return empty-handed.

He told Free Press, “My son is critically ill. He requires one unit of A+ blood, but the doctors said they did not have blood because of coronavirus. We are searching for a donor.”

Shiva is, however, not alone. Down with thalassemia, around 300 children in the city are not getting blood because of Covid-19. There are 10,000 thalassemia patients across the state.

Similarly, Raziya Khan, a home maker, said, “My 11-year-old daughter, a thalassemia patient, requires one unit of B+ blood. We went to the Bhopal Memorial Hospital to collect it. But the doctors there said donors were not coming because of the coronavirus.”

“Finally, we arranged blood from a private blood bank,” she said.

Blood banks are short on 80% of blood because of lockdown. There are 40 blood banks, comprising the government and the private ones, in the city.

Divisional head of Blood Call Centre, Bhopal, Dr Shruti Soni said, “Getting blood has become a big problem. Coronavirus has forced the donors to remain indoors. Normally, 10 to 20 donors visit the blood band daily, but now, the number has been reduced to one or two. There is sometimes no donor.”

“We have 58 children down with thalassemia. Each requires two units of blood a month,” Soni added.

Shweta Verma, an employee of the blood bank at Hamidia Hospital, said, “Pahle bahot zyada donors aate the ab kam aate hai… Besides, we can’t organise blood camps due to lockdown. The blood camps scheduled to be organised to collect 500 units in March have been cancelled due to lockdown.”

She said, “We also get 7200 units of blood each day from replacement collection in which a person donates blood voluntarily or through an attendant of a patient. We get around 35, 000 units of blood a month.”

Sunil Kumar, manager of the Red Cross Blood Bank, said blood banks were short on 80% of blood because of lockdown. “But we have enough of it. We are giving blood to all thalassemia patients without any donation and charge. We are also providing blood to non-thalassemia patients on government charges Rs 1050.”

“We are facing problem of getting blood, especially for thalaseemia patients, who are mostly children. There are around 900 children in and around the city, who are down with thalaseemia. The problem of getting blood will increase in coming days due to lockdown,” said Asma Khan, director of Youth Brigade who works on blood donation.

Blood donor appointment letter

In view of the instructions, issued by the directorate of health services, the collector’s office has issued a format of ‘Blood Donor Appointment Letter’. The letter has to be signed by the blood bank officer of Hamidia Hospital, Bhopal, says that the holder of the letter should be allowed to go to the government blood centre for blood donation. The letter would be valid for 24 hours.

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