Parents of Aryaman Som, the 11-year-old thalassemia patient, are having a hard time finding a donor as blood donation camps in West Bengal are not being organised due to the third wave. Aryaman’s father Jayanta Som, who is the vice-president at Thalasemic Guardian Association, says his son requires blood twice a month. “Blood is life for him. It is becoming difficult day by day to get blood. We at the thalassemia society generally get blood from camps every month or we ourselves organise camps. But no big camps are being organised this time due to Covid-19.”
Although there is no official ban on the blood donation camps in the state, the situation is compounded by the fact that people are not coming forward fearing Covid infection. They think that they may get the virus, which may ultimately affect their children. “People are scared to come to camps for donation,” Som explained.
Another thalassemia patient, Deep Halder, 15, who lives with his grandparents as his parents left him a few years ago, needs one unit of blood every week. His aunt, Payel Poilan, says, “We approached donors, nobody wants to give blood. We get blood only from camps so it is becoming difficult. Three days ago, his (Deep) haemoglobin was 6.5.”
The blood donation camps are usually organised by social clubs, organisations and sometimes, political parties. Clubs officials say the administration has asked them to not hold camps due to the current Covid-19 situation. Not only patients, blood banks at the hospitals are also in distress.
D. Ashish, who founded the voluntary blood donation movement around four decades ago, said “The situation is really bad as now only 10% of camps are taking place. On an average, we used to collect 4,000 unit of blood daily, but now, we are unable to collect even 1,000 unit of blood. If this continues, then it will be more dangerous than Covid-19.”
Around 15 lakh units of blood is collected annually in West Bengal of which 12 lakh units are arranged through blood donation camps. During the 2021 pandemic, only 10 lakh units were collected.
While 40% of the total blood units go to the thalassemia patients, the rest is kept for other treatments.
Blood units collected from the camps are sent to 84 government, 35 private and 16 central government hospitals in the state.
According to government sources, the number of camps being organised has gone down due to the third wave but it will go up as the situation “improves”.
During the first wave of Covid-19, the Kolkata Police used to organise blood donation camps, but during the third wave, the situation has also changed due the shortage of logistics.
Around 14,938 cases of Covid-19 were recorded in the state on Sunday, down from Saturday’s 19,064. The caseload stands at 18,97,699, with 1,60,305 active cases. The positivity rate has also declined to 27.73%.