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Touts make premier lifeline’s blood boil

Jamshedpur Blood Bank, which caters to over 75 health hubs of Kolhan region, is fighting an unholy nexus of middlemen and professional donors ringing its campus.

In October, the premier blood bank informed Bistupur police station twice about the activities of scores of touts outside its premises, near certain key spots such as the district education office, Rotary Shelter or Meherbai Tata Memorial Hospital.

Though police raids reined in touts temporarily, they are back in business again.

Their modus operandi is simple. If a middleman sees a ‘newcomer’ rushing towards the blood bank, he poses as a bona fide member of staff and assures all help. Then, he introduces his trump card, the professional donor.

Based on the degree of urgency, a deal is struck between the person and the tout in blatant violation of the Supreme Court ban on selling and buying of blood.

The price per unit of blood is fixed anywhere between Rs 1,000 and Rs 3,000.

The ‘client’ is then led to the blood bank to get his requisition slip. Based on that, the professional donor, pretending to be the patient’s kin, gives a unit in exchange for getting another for the ‘client’, the real relative.

The tout takes the cash after the ‘client’ gets his unit and then divides it between himself and the professional donor.

“We cater to 130-odd patients every day. People must know that we don’t charge a single penny for blood,” said Tata Steel Societies manager and Jamshedpur Blood Bank co-ordinator Rajnish Kumar.

Kumar added that he had brought the matter of touts to the notice of Bistupur police twice before Durga Puja.

“I personally chased away two touts on Dashami. Yes, police patrolled the area but touts came back,” he said. “It is a lucrative business as many people, especially from villages, are ignorant of blood bank rules,” he added.

Kumar stressed on the fact that along with police patrol, public awareness was the key to driving away touts.

“The broad rules governing blood transfusion in India should be known to all. One, blood can’t be bought or sold. Two, we ask persons who seek blood to donate units to maintain our own stock. Three, we process the blood we get from the donor and so charge a fee of Rs 500, but government hospitals aren’t supposed to take that. Four, if we have stock, we don’t seek replacement. Five, we are completely against taking blood from professional donors as it is an illegal and unhealthy practice,” he said.

Professional donors sell blood frequently and lie about their health and medication status, he added. “According to norms, one cannot donate more than once within 90 days and a donor should inform us about medicines taken the day before. Professional donors put their own and the patient’s life at risk,” Kumar said.

Blood bank administrator Sanjay Choudhary said screening professional from genuine donors was increasingly becoming a tough job.

“Middlemen have tutored professional donors well. Donors pretend to be the kin of patients and convincingly rattle off details of the illness, hospital and doctors,” he said, demanding regular police patrol to rein in the rogues.

Have you ever fallen prey to a tout outside the blood bank?

Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com