By Joymala Bagchi
New Delhi [India], April 19 (ANI): The COVID-19 pandemic has hit blood banks across the country. Several scheduled blood donation camps were cancelled even before the Centre's guidelines to contain the coronavirus were announced.
At this crucial juncture, the CRPF has come forward to organise a blood donation camp with assistance from AIIMS on April 20. The blood donation camp is scheduled to be organised at Okhla.
While there is a sharp drop in blood and platelet needs at trauma centres, those for organ transplants and surgeries demand remains constant or at times even increases for the patients suffering from thalassemia, anemia or to mitigate the blood loss in pregnancy and other rare accidents.
Navin Tyagi, senior medical officer, CRPF, told ANI: "Given the rising demand of blood, AIIMS' Main Blood Bank approached us. As the CRPF is always ready to help the needy, we are organising a camp tomorrow. I am sure this move will motivate other voluntary blood donors to come forward. However, safety, security, and guidelines are a must for everyone."
The website of the National Blood Transfusion Council (NBTC) reveals that the total donated blood has dropped from 38,189 units in February to 26,741 units in March. Further, only 3,037 units have been received in the first 10 days of April. The number of blood donation camps has also come down from 473 in February to merely 46 in April.
Vanashree Singh, Director, Blood Bank, the Indian Red Cross Society, National Headquarters here, told ANI: "Thalassemic, under dialysis, anaemic, cancer patients and pregnant woman are majorly facing the issue. Keeping in mind their requirement, we have opened a control room across the country for blood donation."
The Red Cross has issued travel passes for the donors along with pick and drop facility. Moreover, they have set up 'on bus' donation while strictly ensuring the safety of the donors and the collectors.
At present, the Red Cross has 38,000 donors in the national capital. In the last 24 hours, 40 units of blood have been issued.
"Right now our greatest challenge is the hotspots. There were times when a person donated blood from a particular area, which was later declared as hotspots, and we immediately cancelled the entire process. We are currently working on our strategy on what will be the further steps if hotspots escalate," added Dr Singh.
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has already issued guidelines for blood transfusion services in the country amid lockdown to ensure the continuation of the supply of safe blood.
As per the NBTC, donors who either have travel history, contact history or is a confirmed case of COVID-19 cannot donate blood till 28 days.
Blood banks throughout the nation are highly dependent on voluntary blood donors to meet their daily needs.
After the Union Health Ministry announced a relaxation on voluntary blood donors, blood banks have requested organisers to arrange small camps with a limited number of donors to cater to the needs of the patients.
Kanishk Yadav, Nursing Officer, AIIMS, who would also be present at the camp, said: "This blood donation camp was scheduled earlier but was cancelled due to COVID-19. Tomorrow the CRPF is organising a small blood donation camp, which will start at 10 am. All basic safety including social distancing will be strictly adhered to."
With 31 deaths and 1,324 new cases reported in the last 24 hours, India's total number of COVID-19 positive cases reached 16,116 on Sunday. (ANI)