New Delhi: India faces a potential shortage of blood in hospitals and blood banks as donations dry up due to the lockdown.

Blood banks across the country have reported a sharp fall in voluntary and replacement donations after the 21-day nationwide lockdown was announced last month to counter the spread of coronavirus. The curbs have also stopped voluntary bodies from organising blood donation camps.

Some of the large hospital chains ET spoke with said there is an urgent need to work out a mechanism to allow voluntary donations as their network hospitals across the country have blood to meet requirement for the next 20 to 30 days only. “The voluntary as well as and replacement blood donations have both significantly gone down since the time of a complete lockdown… At the current rate, our blood bank can support services for the next 25-30 days if situations are as of today,” Sangeeta Pathak, head of the blood bank department at Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, Delhi, told ET.

Although hospitals have stopped all elective surgeries, there is routine requirement for blood for thalassemia and haemophilia patients, oncology patients, cardiac surgeries, accident victims and cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

At the same time, blood also has a shelf life. While the donations have dried up, stock is expiring daily and hospitals are dipping into their reserves.

Sangeeta Agarwal, head of department of transfusion medicine at Fortis Memorial Research Institute in Gurgaon, said, “Voluntary organisations like Red Cross, Rotary Club, etc., which are the major blood resources, are also not able to hold any blood donation camps due to the lockdown.” Requirement of blood in hospitals could also rise if there is a surge in Covid-19 cases, said Pathak of Max hospital. According to her, Covid-19 patients in critical condition would need intensive care and what is called platelet-rich concentrates (PRCs) and fresh frozen plasmas (FFPs).

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