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Researchers call for national blood policy

Vinson Kurian

There is a constant need for a regular supply of blood because blood can be stored only for a limited period of time.

Thiruvananthapuram , Aug. 2

RESEARCHERS have underscored the need for evolving and implementing national guidelines on the appropriate use of blood and blood products in order to promote their optimal use.

Along with this, component preparation should be actively encouraged, according to researchers at the Metabolic Disorders Research Centre (MDRC) of surgicals major Terumo Penpol.

This can be achieved by forcing a shift in emphasis from using whole blood to components. Whole blood is disadvantageous for at least two reasons; (i) wastage - the transfused patient may not require all components, and (ii) fluid overload - in cases where the patient does not require volume replacement.

On the other hand, using components ensures optimal use of blood resources since only the required component would be transfused, preserving the rest for other patients. The risk of transfusion-induced reactions and cardiac overloading are also minimised in this manner. Apart from these, using components will mean that one donated unit can benefit several patients. Storage period can also be enhanced.

A number of blood banks across the country have since been provided with facilities for blood component separation. But these are not available in all cities and all blood banks, rendering the practice of using whole blood still common. A national plasma fractionation centre has been established at Mumbai, but there is a need to expand this activity either at the same centre or at another one established at a different part of the country.

Plasma for fractionation must fulfil the same strict criteria applicable to blood for component preparation. There is a need to devise a strategy for obtaining adequate plasma derivatives. Alternatives to this are setting up of large-scale (capacities of more than three lakh litres) fractionation centres or opting for contract fractionation.

New medical treatments are being developed every day and more operations being carried out. So there is a constant need for donations for these vital procedures. However, the overwhelming majority of the world's population do not have access to safe blood. Over 80 million units of blood are donated every year, but only 38 per cent are collected in developing countries where 82 per cent of the global population live.

The immediate task is to increase the supply of voluntarily donated blood. Having an adequate number of whole blood donations permits the therapy of acute trauma and burns, the performance of elective and emergency surgery, the treatment of malignant disease, the treatment of neonatal and puerperal anaemia and haemorrhage and thalassaemia.

There is a constant need for a regular supply of blood because blood can be stored only for a limited period of time. Regular blood donation by a sufficient number of healthy people is needed to ensure that blood will always be available whenever and wherever it is needed.

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