Coronavirus: Himachal’s blood banks run dry as lockdown keeps donors away

With various NGOs having to stop organising blood donation camps due to the lockdown imposed in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, blood banks in the state are facing an acute shortage of supply, officials said on Wednesday.

The blood bank at the state’s premier medical institute, Indira Gandhi Medical College (IGMC) has almost run dry. The blood bank at IGMC has the capacity to store 250 units of blood. On routine days, the blood availability remains between 200- 250 units. However, blood donation has come to grinding halt due clampdown enforced in the state, even as hospital authorities have already ordered to pend the routine surgery.

“Though the blood requirement has declined in the hospital due to surgeries being put on hold, there is an acute shortage of blood in the hospital,” said Janak Raj Pakhretia, senior medical superintendent at IGMC. There were less than 50 units of blood left in the bank to meet the exigencies.

The other two government hospitals in Shimla— Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital and Kamla Nehru Hospital—was also facing a shortage of blood.

Umang Foundation, a non-government organisation has taken special permission from the government, to organise blood donation camps in Mashobra in the periphery of Shimla town. “We have a list of nearly 200 donors. Due to the curfew, they are unable to visit the hospital to donate blood. Hence, we have sought permission from the government to organise blood donation camps to ramp up blood collection,” said Ajay Srivastava, convenor at Umang Foundation and a donor.

In a letter to CM, Ajay appealed to him to consider blood donation as an “essential service” during the lockdown.

After several efforts by the foundation, the health department has issued an advisory that blood donation camps could be organised after taking certain precautions. But now it will be a difficult task for blood banks, NGOs and donors to organise such camps after the lockdown announced by the government.

Jai Ram has appealed to the people to come forward to voluntarily donate blood so that there was no scarcity of blood in the blood banks. He said the health department has issued guidelines to organise blood donation camps in the state. The instructions have also been issued to all deputy commissioners, chief medical officers and in-charge of blood banks in this regard. He said voluntary organisations would be encouraged to organise blood donation camps.

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