January 12, 2017Print : Karachi
Dormant centralised blood bank drives patients’ attendants from pillar to post
The absence of a centralised blood bank in Karachi is felt the most by the attendants of patients who are forced to run around the city in search of the required blood type.
Availability of blood for surgeries has become a serious problem for both the relatives of patients and healthcare providers, because in many cases elective surgeries and procedures have to be postponed either due to unavailability of the required blood type at blood banks or a donor.
“My husband had to undergo an abdominal surgery at a public hospital a couple of weeks ago,” Rashida Khatoon from Orangi Town told The News on Wednesday. “The doctors asked me arrange at least four blood bags for him prior to the surgery. They gave me his blood in a test tube for cross-matching and requested that I try my luck at different blood banks in the city.”
She travelled around the city in a rickshaw, stopping at one blood bank after the other in her search for O-negative blood, but she hardly found two bags at two separate blood banks in the entire day. Her husband’s surgery was postponed that day. The next day she resumed her search for the remaining blood bags and returned to the hospital with her mission accomplished. But her husband’s surgery was put off again because she was late.
“The real issue was finding the required blood type at the blood banks and then arranging donors,” she said. “Two of my relatives donated blood, but for two more I had to request more than a dozen people, only two of whom accepted my request.” She said she spent hundreds of rupees in her search for the blood bags, lamenting that no system existed that would guide a person in case you were in need of a rare blood type.
Eminent haematologist Dr Zeeshan Ansari said that in the absence of a centralised blood bank, the authorities should establish a central blood inventory to help people searching for a particular blood type. “In this era of information technology, all the blood banks in the city should update their inventory at the end of the day or at the start of the day so that people could directly visit them, where their required blood type is available.”
He admitted that people found it hard to arrange rare blood types, especially O-negative and other negative types, adding that people were forced to run from one blood bank to the other and often sought assistance of doctors, pathologists and haematologists. “We have seen people crying for blood. Sometimes they have money and donors, but their required blood type is unavailable at blood banks.”
He said the only solution to the problem was a functional centralised blood bank, which was established with the help of the German government but so far the Sindh administration had failed to activate it. “Temporarily, a blood inventory should be established by the Sindh Blood Transfusion Authority (SBTA).”
SBTA Secretary Zahid Ansari advised people searching for blood to contact him. “I always point people in the right direction. Not a single time anyone whom I helped has had any complaint.” He made the assurance that the people’s problems would be resolved once the centralised blood bank is made functional by the middle of February.
Meanwhile, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre Executive Director Dr Seemin Jamali and Civil Hospital Karachi trauma centre head Dr Saeed Qureshi claimed that no surgeries were postponed at their facilities due to unavailability of blood because they themselves made all the arrangements.