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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Blood bank woes spell trouble

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 10: Patients looking for blood at the Red Cross Blood Bank in the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation Hospital may soon have to return empty-handed as it has been placed under temporary suspension.

The state directorate of drug control issued an order for suspending the licence of the blood bank as it does not have the basic infrastructure that is required to run such a facility.

Though the blood bank needs as many as eight rooms for smooth functioning, it has only five. The blood bank has also failed to adopt proper sanitation measures on its premises.

To make matters worse, the blood bank is doing with only four people when it requires eight employees to do the job.

Sources in the directorate said that though a notice had been issued to the blood bank in September last year asking it to overcome the shortcomings, the hospital authorities have failed to comply with it.

“Therefore, we had no other option but to temporarily suspend its licence,” said a senior official of the directorate.

The suspension of licence means that the blood bank can no longer collect and preserve blood units. But as the blood bank already has around 250 units of stored blood in its possession, they can supply those blood units to the patients.

Sources in the BMC Hospital said that it would take the blood bank about a week to exhaust its existing stock as about 40 to 50 blood units are required everyday.

The blood bank’s officer Rakhal Chandar Behera said they would submit to the directorate a plan of expansion within the next two days.

“We will also request the directorate to withdraw the suspension order in the interest of the patients. We plan to operate the existing blood bank and start the expansion work simultaneously if the directorate lifts the suspension order,” said Behera.

Sources in the hospital said that availability of land was a major impediment in carrying out the blood bank’s expansion work.

“Though the blood bank has come up about two decades ago, the BMC has not been able to fund it properly. This has stood in the way of blood bank’s expansion,” said another official of the hospital.

Though in the beginning of 2001, the blood bank used to collect and store as many as 2,000 blood units every year, the current collection has gone up to nearly 14,000 per annually without much addition to the infrastructure.

The blood bank also supplies about 3,000 units of blood components through its blood component separation unit.

At present, Bhubaneswar has only two government-run blood banks – one in Capital Hospital and the other in BMC Hospital.

While the blood component separation unit has been lying defunct in Capital Hospital for the last 14 months, the suspension of licence of the BMC Hospital blood bank has made the patients a worried lot.

Blood components are essential to treat cancer, kidney-related problems and several other diseases. It also assumes significance as a single unit of blood can be used for the treatment of three to four patients.

“We used to depend on the BMC Hospital blood bank for various components as the separation unit in Capital Hospital has been lying defunct. We will have no other option but to depend on blood banks in Cuttack and in other areas outside Bhubaneswar, if the BMC Hospital’s blood bank is shut down,” said Pitambar Pradhan, a relative of a thalassemia patient.