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44.45 litres blood, 918 litres plasma wasted at blood bank

While citizens throng blood donation camps and willingly part with their own blood with the noble intention of saving lives, a city hospital has been allowing their sacrifice to go waste for over one-and-a-half years now, out of sheer laziness.

An RTI filed by a doctor has revealed that from January 2012 to August 2013, 44.45 litres of whole blood and another 917.84 litres of plasma were not used at the St George Hospital in Fort, despite several other hospital blood banks facing shortage of blood supply in the same time period. The 44.45 litres of blood from 127 units of blood languished in the bank till it reached expiration date. Sixty-four units out of 4,357 units had expired in 2012, while 63 units out of 2,417 passed their expiry date in August.

While plasma is obtained by separating it from red blood cells within six hours of blood collection, the RTI reply stated that no Freshly Frozen Plasma (FFP) was produced in the hospital’s blood bank in the last one year and eight months. However, no written information was available on what was done with the plasma removed from the blood bags collected by the blood bank in this period.

“As per the RTI reply, a total of 4,768 packed red blood cells (PRBC) were produced from January 1, 2012 till August end this year. While each unit of blood is 350 ml, human blood contains 55 per cent plasma. Hence, loss of plasma from 4,768 units amounts to a tremendous loss, which could have been used as a life-saving drug for patients suffering from a variety of ailments,” said the doctor.

Lethargy at work
The hospital, which has a thalassemia ward, requires only PRBC for its 91 patients who require transfusions once every fortnight. “It is after this collection that separation of the plasma needs to be done within six hours. If that is done, two products can be prepared, PRBC and FFP,” added the doctor. The latter was not collected and used.

The frozen plasma, which has an expiry of one year, can save the lives of patients suffering from a variety of ailments – burns victims, those in need of massive transfusions, those who have undergone cardiac bypass or suffer from liver diseases or immunodeficiency. It is a mystery why those manning the St George Hospital blood bank did not produce this, though licensed by the FDA to do so.

Other government hospitals in the city that produce FFP include KEM, Nair, Sion and JJ hospitals. “These blood banks could have shared the workload, but due to the apathy of the blood bank in-charge and blood transfusion officers (BTO), there was so much wastage,” said the doctor. The RTI reply has been forwarded to the State Blood Transfusion Council (SBTC), FDA, and the superintendent of the hospital.

FDA’s response
“The matter was brought to our notice two days ago and we are looking into it to see what action can be taken. We tried to contact the concerned person, but couldn’t get in touch with them. But we had conducted an inspection. We have also informed the higher-ups,” said KB Shende, joint commissioner of FDA.

64
The units of blood out of a total 4,357 that expired in 2012 without being used

63
Units out of 2,417 that passed their expiry date from January to August this year

4,768
No of blood units from which blood bank workers did not glean plasma in 18 months

55%
Percentage of plasma in blood

91
No of thalassemia patients that require transfusions every fortnight at St George Hospital 

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