Mumbai needs more donors as summers dry up blood banks

Apr 28, 2014, 07:51 IST | Varun Singh and Anuradha Varanasi

Blood banks in the city face a crunch in summers, when exams, vacations keep people from donating

While in Mumbai, where an average of 3 lakh units of blood usually meets the requirements of those who need it, blood banks face scarcity during summers due to a shortage of donors.

According to the State Blood Transfusion Council, voluntary blood donation is the best way to bridge the demand-supply gap in every state. Representation pic
According to the State Blood Transfusion Council, voluntary blood donation is the best way to bridge the demand-supply gap in every state. Representation pic

Dr Zarin Bharucha, president of the Federation of Bombay Blood Banks, said that although there has been no specific study conducted on this issue, the demand for blood has increased, and a shortage can be felt in the country.

Talking about the reason for the shortage, she said, “India has more depositors than donors. Depositors are those who donate so that when they need it, they just show their donor’s card and get blood for their family and relatives. We need donors who voluntarily donate blood.”

As per experts, if every country has at least one per cent of the total population in blood reserve, India should ideally have about 12 million units of blood, but actually has nine million.

The city faces a crunch during summer as the number of donors goes down. Dr Neelam Nijhara, secretary of the federation, said, “Usually people leave for their native places or go on vacation. This brings about a deficit.”

Dr Bharucha suggests that forming blood donors club at college level can help tackle the issue of shortage. Members of the club can pledge to donate 20 to 25 times in their lives. Corporates should also encourage their employees to donate, he said.

Fewer donors
Dr D N Lanjewar, in-charge of JJ Hospital’s blood bank, said, “We face shortage during summers. Most of our donors are college students who have exams this time of the year and then leave the city for holidays.

We barely organise 10 donation camps, a 50 per cent drop as compared to other times of the year. We try to approach corporates, but even there the attendance is low as many employees are on vacation.”

Dr Sanjay Jadhav, director of State Blood Transfusion Council, said, “India tops the list of most blood donation camps and units of blood collected. In Maharashtra, we have managed to increase the units of blood collected, from 3.6 lakh in 1997 to 14.76 lakh till date.”

He continued, “On an average, the state has 1.27 per cent of the population in blood reserve. The key to decreasing the demand-supply gap in other states is by encouraging citizens to come forward and voluntarily donate blood, a common practice in Maharashtra.”

When is donated blood used?
Aside of regular surgery and accident cases, blood is also used for oncology research. In India, the number of thalassaemia patients has been increasing every year, another case where blood is used. It should also be noted that not all donations are necessarily used, as many units turn out to be HIV+, or otherwise infected.

Total blood camps conducted in the state from 1997 till date

30 lakh
Total units of blood currently available in Maharashtra

Blood collected by the state, as a percentage of the total blood collected in the county

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