With a shortage of 500 units of blood last month, nearly 300 patients registered with the Thalassemia Society in the City could not get blood transfusions. The shortage seems to have hit other blood banks as well.
The Thalassemia Society in Hyderabad requires nearly 24,000 units of blood per annum, but only 8,286 units could be given to Thalassemia patients till November this year.
“There is always a shortage of blood,” said Dr Suman Jain, secretary at the Thalassemia and Sickle Cell Society (TSCS), Hyderabad. “If 20-25 people of the same blood group adopt a child, and become a ‘blood brother’ or ‘blood sister’ for the child, there will never be a shortage.”
Nearly 1,400 Thalassemia patients are registered with TSCS in Hyderabad. Majority of them are Thalassemia major (who need blood transfusions every 2-3 weeks, throughout their lives).
Donors are ‘God’s gift’
“If we don’t have donors, we don’t have life. You are God’s gift to us,” said Lakshmi, mother of a nine-year-old child who had come for blood transfusion to TSCS.
If his transfusion is delayed, Khaja Moinuddi, 11, becomes dull and inactive. He eventually stops eating, his mother said.
Around 900 children with Thalassemia come regularly to the society for transfusions. Around 60 patients are above 18 years of age and require two units of blood (as opposed to one for a child) per transfusion.
Need for fresh blood
Transfusions are free for Thalassemia patients at TSCS and government-funded blood banks. If there is a shortage at TSCS, patients go to other banks like Chiranjeevi and Red Cross.
“The current situation is very critical. People come and return empty handed,” said Sudhir Kumar, in-charge at Chiranjeevi blood bank. “Donor count has decreased and number of people needing blood has increased.”
“We need around 1,500 units of blood per month. We get 7-800 units,” said Madhavi, administrator at NTR blood bank, adding December and May are the most difficult months.
Dr Jain said parents should also share the responsibility of finding donors. Of the 15,400 units of blood collected by TSCS this year, only 8,286 could be given to Thalassemia patients. The blood used for Thalassemia patients should not be stored for more than five days. Blood that was unfit was discarded, and those that were more than five days old were sold to general public.