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Poll, heat clog blood supply

Calcutta’s blood banks are drying up in the face of a two-pronged heat assault — extreme weather and election.

Doctors warn that the city is heading for a major crisis unless the blood banks are replenished by reactivating donation camps.

Sources said a negligible number of donation camps were being organised over the past fortnight because of the harsh heat and the five-phase Lok Sabha polls in the state, triggering a shortage of blood in state-run as well as private banks.

“The shortfall is showing… supply is down because only a few blood donation camps were being organised. We are managing with the old stock. If collections don’t go up, we’ll soon have to turn people away,” said Swapan Kumar Paul, director of the Central Blood Bank at Maniktala.

He said the blood bank used to receive approximately 15 requests on Sundays and holidays for blood donation camps. “The requests have dipped to less than 10 over the past one month.”

The number of donors in a camp has gone down too, said a blood bank official. “From at least 50 units, it has come down to around 30,” he added.

The crisis could exacerbate because, according to a state health department official, the situation would improve by May-end.

“More than 70 per cent blood donation camps are organised by political parties and the rest by voluntary organisations. The polls are clearly having an effect,” said the Swastha Bhavan official.

Relatives of patients needing blood transfusion alleged that they had to run from one blood bank to another for a single unit.

Dum Dum resident Hare Krishna Das required two units for wife Shrabani, admitted to a private nursing home following a road accident.

“I managed to get one unit at the Central Blood Bank. I was told that the second unit would be available tomorrow,” he said.

A relative of Hooghly resident Shrabanti Kamilya, whose surgery to remove a uterine tumour was due on Friday at Lady Dufferin Hospital, was at his wits’ end after scouring the city for the commonly-available O-positive blood. “Even that is out of stock,” he said.

Private blood banks too are hemmed in by the shortage. “We are giving only a single unit against each request to ensure that we don’t run out of stock,” said an official.

Bhoruka blood bank officials said the number of donors at the donation camps have gone down drastically.

Belle Vue Clinic is also feeling the pinch despite organising a camp at South Point School last month. “We have been able to create a stock. But we are unable to get the required amount when we try to collect from state-run banks,” said Pradip Tondon, the CEO of Belle Vue.

Doctors said surgeries would suffer if steps were not taken to avert the crisis.