India feels acute shortage of blood during emergencies like bomb blasts as many blood banks do not maintain buffer stocks as required.
According to the protocol specified by National AIDS Control Organisation, 25% of all blood collected by a blood bank has to be kept aside as buffer stock, to be used only in case of an emergency.
However, according to Naco's national programme officer for blood safety Debashish Gupta, only 20% of the blood banks follow the protocol strictly. Gupta said: "Of India's 2,433 blood banks, only 20% maintain the buffer stock. The majority are so small that they don't even know how to handle an emergency..."
Haresh Saxena, Head of the Department of transfusion medicine at Sawai Man Singh Hospital (Jaipur), where the critically injured patients were taken following the recent bomb blast, told the Times of India that it was the buffer stock that saved the day for critical patients.
"Buffer stock is crucial for disaster management. We collect 50,000 units of blood annually and break it into 75,000 units of components. On the day of the blasts, we had 800 units of blood in buffer stock that came in handy," Saxena said.
According to Gupta, only 500 blood banks in India can be termed as "big banks" because they collect more than 10,000 units annually. Nearly 600 of the rest are "small banks" that collect a paltry amount of 1,000 units a year. Most of the 2,433 blood banks are moderate — they collect 3,000-5,000 units of blood a year.
"Unfortunately, a large number of blood banks collect such small amounts of blood that they hardly have any to keep as buffer stock," Gupta said.
He added, "That's why we have decided to shut down these small blood banks. They will function as blood storage units, which will be supplied with whole blood and blood components like plasma and platelets by a highly sophisticated mother bank, coming up in each of the four zones."
Kabita Chatterjee, faculty incharge, AIIMS blood bank in New Delhi, said, "We have large quantities of packed AB+ plasma, O+ and O- blood, always in stock for emergencies. They are replenished every day," Chatterjee said.
According to Gupta, AB+ plasma, O+ and O- blood stocks are vital in case of a terrorist attack when lot of patients require blood.
"When relatives of victims aren't around and there's no way to find out the patient's blood group, consent is taken from the treating physicians and these blood groups are infused. O- is given to children and women of child-bearing age while O+ is given to men and women in menopausal age," Gupta said.
In India, the ratio of use of blood components to whole blood is 15:85, while globally it is 90:10.
India has 2,433 blood banks India requires 9 million units of blood annually, but collects only 7 million, writes Kounteya Sinha.
One unit of blood is 450ml At present, 53% of all blood collected is through voluntary donation against 45% in 2002.