The dengue infections have reached their peak in Bangalore. We have scores of patients around the city receiving treatment for the same. A direct impact of this is the increase in workload of the Sankalp Emergency Team.
Normally after a good blood doonation drive we try to sit back for a while believing that the units collected in the drive will be available to the patients. However, this season it is different. On Saturday 17th July, we had more than an hour long session when the phone hardly was put away. We had more than 6 blood requests - all for platelets - and all of them for multiple units of platelets. The city is seeing the worst crunch for platelets. The poor staff at the call centre is reporting nil stocks for platelets for most part of the day and simply forwarding the requests to be handled as emergency. And for the emergency team, the challange of ensuring timely supply of platelets is becoming a bigger challange with each passing day.
Sometime media comes up with funny reports. One of them indicated that 15 cases of dengue have been reported in Delhi. Any Sankalp Emergency Team Volunteer may have taken more than 15 requests in last few months. God knows from where do the authorities get their numbers. If they think 15 cases in a large number - enough to be taked about, then we doubt if there is even a fractional awareness about the real magnitude of the infection.
While some blood banks are working day and night to fight dengue and the apheresis machines are running round the clock, there are those blood banks who are yet to wake up from their sleep. Two of the major blood banks of the city reportedly refuse to issue blood/platelets at night because they cannot issue blood without replacement due to shortage. The amazing part is that they cannot take replacement at night because they have too few technicians to take replacement. So even with blood on shelf, they ask the patient to come back next morning to collect blood. We wish that the vaue of human life is seen greater than some resourcing issues of so called emergency medical services.
Even with donors available many people are struggling to get platelets on time. This is because either the blood banks are not concerned about the need or the remaining ones are overloaded. We know of machines in the city which are running round the clock with apheresis phocedures scheduled even in the middle of the night. Many times our assitance is requeired for the families to find a right place to be able to get the process of platelet apheresis through.
While the voluntary and the private facilities have embraced apheresis in the fight against dengue, sadly our Government Hospitals are yet to have running facility for the same. The number of units of platelets that are required from random donors is just too overwhelming. Apheresis is providing relief to several patients who otherwise may not have been able to arrange for so many units of blood. We hope that our Government institutions soon realise that year after year dengue is throwing a challange, in which victory cannot be achieved without adequate supply of platelets - including those drawn by the process of apheresis.
Kudos Donors! While we take on the numerous requests, we really have not faced an acute shortage of SDP(Single Donor Platelet) donors. Kudos to the spirit of these young men who are making themselves available time and again to save the lives of unknown, unrelated people.
Ironically, the dengue season coincides with the annual vacation of many Sankalp Volunteers. The Emergency Wing is running with a third of it's normal strength and the number of requests being many times the average. We wish the Emergency Team luck while they strive to ensure that each person finds adequate supply of blood on time.
- Dengue: http://www.sankalpindia.net/drupal/sankalp-pioneering-apheresis
- Apheresis: http://www.sankalpindia.net/drupal/sankalp-pioneering-apheresis
in the duration that this article was written : approx 25 minutes, EW got request for 15 platelets which are being taken up as 3 SDP procedures