Segregate blood to save more lives

Segregate blood to save more lives

If every unit of blood segregated into components can save five people, why is the medical fraternity so callous about the separation process? Why is only 20 per cent of the precious life fluid collected in hospitals across the State segregated as RBCs, WBCs, plasma, platelets and cryoprecipitates?

Doctors at segregation-specialised blood banks in Bangalore are amazed at this disinterest by many hospitals, combined with a glaring lack of awareness among the patients. “Barring exceptional cases like massive loss of blood, a patient does not require whole blood transfusion. It may actually harm the patient, the extra plasma adding to the body fluid and triggering more problems,” a veteran haematologist explained to Deccan Herald.

Separated blood components could address the specific needs of different categories of patients. For instance, an accident victim would require more RBCs, cancer and dengue patients more platelets and burns cases would need more of cryoprecipitates and plasma. Use of blood is thus maximised. Insisting on replacement blood, hospitals often fail to educate patients and relatives on the benefits of segregated blood. “Under emotional pressure, the relatives donate blood even if they are in risk category (having had unprotected sex, for instance, the day before). Such risk factors don’t show up during the window period,” noted Shalini Gambhir from the Bangalore Medical Services Trust.

The safest route for hospitals would be to receive blood only from registered blood banks, that is certified HIV negative, and totally avoid replacement blood, she said. Blood taken from voluntary donors at the banks go through a window period, and is tested for HIV 1, HIV 2, Syphilis, Malaria, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.

Blood component separation, according to haematologists, should be fast, completed within six to eight hours of the donation. “Storage in a particular temperature is critical.

While RBCs should be stored at four degrees Celsius for a shelf life of 42 days, the temperature for platelets is 22 degrees Celsius with additives. Plasma, stored at 30 degrees Celsius, will have a shelf life of one year. But platelets can survive only for five days,” informed Dr Latha Jagannathan, Medical Director and Managing Director of Rotary TTK Blood Bank.

The bank, which made a record collection of 36,000 units from voluntary donors last year, currently supplies components to 18 hospitals in Bangalore, both corporate and government.


Special Donors Club

Patients who require monthly blood transfusions need not despair. Catering to their critical need, 200 “O+” universal donors are now part of an exclusive Special Donors Club, attached to the Rotary TTK Blood Bank. The Club members donate blood once in six months. Every thalassemia-affected child who comes to the bank every month is linked to three or four of these special donors.

At the blood bank, the Club members are also phenotyped for minor blood groups. This helps in using their blood for multi-transfuse difficult crossmatch patients. These patients, who have to undergo multiple transfusions, usually find it tough to get an exact blood match. The Club is looking for more members. For more on the Club, contact the Blood Bank on 080-25287903, or call Dr Ankit on 9740594251.

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