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Dengue in Delhi: For platelets, many turn to private blood banks

                     

The Indian Express, New Delhi

September 3, 2015

 

                              Hospitals are also reporting increasing demand for platelets.

 

As cases of dengue continue to rise in the capital, an increasing number of patients are reporting depleting platelet count and hemorrhagic fever. With the demand for platelets shooting up, health officials are having a hard time regulating the availability and price of platelets in private blood banks.

 

According to representatives from blood banks, the demand for platelets has risen sharply in the last ten days. “Routinely, we process upto 10 units of platelets a day, now we are processing up to 150,” said Dr Vanashree Singh, director of blood banks at the Indian Red Cross Society.

 

The organisation supplies blood to individuals, private nursing homes and even government hospitals, he said. “Even today, we have supplied 40 units to a single government hospital. We are organising voluntary blood camps to meet the demand,” said Dr Singh.

 

Hospitals are also reporting increasing demand for platelets.

 

At BLK hospital, Dr Rashika Setia, consultant in blood transfusion medicine, said, “In the last one week, we have been treating patients in Emergency, who have hemorrhagic fever. Earlier NCR was seeing a spike, but in our hospital we did not get such an emergency demand,” Dr Setia said.

 

According to guidelines of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), issued by the state blood transfusion authority, single donor platelets (SDP) in private blood banks should cost upto Rs 11,000. For SDP, platelets are separated, processed and collected from a single donor — in a process known as apheresis — and all other blood components are returned to the donor.

 

Random donor platelets (RDP), where platelets from multiple donors are used and which contain relatively fewer platelets, should cost Rs 400. Whole blood without separating platelets should cost Rs 1,450 per unit in private blood banks.

 

A patient with depleting platelets needs one unit of SDP per day, and may need 4-5 units if he is using RDPs. “The advantage with SDP is that you are exposing patients to fewer donors, so the chances of contracting infection is less. The concentration of platelets is also more in SDP, so even with one unit, platelets shoot up very fast,” explained Dr Singh.

 

Raman Nagar, whose wife was being treated at a private nursing home for dengue, said he had been searching for donors across Delhi and the national capital region. “I was asked to fork out between Rs 12,000 to Rs 18,000. How many people can afford this,” he said.

 

Many patients, being treated at government hospitals, are also approaching private blood banks to get the requisite platelets faster. “The waiting time at government blood banks runs into ages. When platelets are needed in an emergency, we cannot wait,” said Lokesh Singh, whose father is suffering from dengue.

 

Authorities say government blood banks were charging nominal rates of about Rs 300 for processing platelets earlier, but this year they have been directed to provide platelets free to patients in government hospitals. The same rate continues to be levied for requests from private nursing homes in government blood banks.

 

Authorities said smaller standalone private blood banks do charge higher rates.“When demand for platelets shoots up, private blood banks do have a tendency to overcharge,” said Dr Singh.


http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/dengue-in-delhi-for-platelets-many-turn-to-private-blood-banks/