Don’t say no to patients with blood disorders, blood banks warned

Mumbai: The State Blood Transfusion Council will take action against those blood banks refusing blood to patients suffering from haemophilia, sickle-cell anaemia and thalassemia. Officials said it has been brought to their notice that many blood banks do so. They have instructed that information of the available stock be displayed by banks and blood be provided free of cost to those with blood disorders.

As per rules issued by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) in 2014, which were adopted by the Maharashtra SBTC, blood and blood components must be provided free of cost to thalassemia, sickle-cell anaemia, haemophilia and other conditions where repeated blood transfusions are required. “It was learnt that many blood banks were violating rules and not providing blood/ components, or were charging money or asking for replacement. This was putting needy patients in a dire spot,” said an official.

An SBTC official said they had decided to act on this matter. "We issued a notice to all the blood banks to follow the rules. We provide NOCs (no-objection certificates) as directed by NACO on the condition that rules and regulations are strictly followed by all blood banks. In case of violations, the NOC can be cancelled and a recommendation can be sent to the Food & Drug Administration to cancel licences,” he said.

Dr Sumir Dembla, blood transfusion officer from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation-run VN Desai Hospital Blood Bank, Santacruz, said most patients suffering from blood disorders are not aware that in an emergency, they can request blood from any blood bank across the city. “Such patients are issued cards by the SBTC but many non-government blood banks turn them down. Many patients are unaware of their rights and where they can complain. So, this move by the SBTC is a positive step,” he said.

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