Srinagar: The act of donating blood to save a life in the summer capital could cost you Rs 850 now if the recipient patient is admitted in a private hospital! This is the new norms brought in by the halt in supply of blood bags, triple serology kits and other consumables.
Tauseef Ahmed, a voluntary blood donor who steers a group of young blood donors was in for a shock last week when he and seven other blood donors with him were asked to pay for the blood bags, testing kits of Hepatitis and HIV and other items required for donation. They were donating at SMHS Hospital Blood Bank for a victim of a Road Traffic Accident (RTA) admitted at a private hospital in Srinagar. Ahmed has been donating blood admitted at all categories of hospitals for a decade now, he said. “This is the first time we had to shell out money while donating our blood,” he said.
The donor said most of the voluntary donors in Kashmir were young people who were still in their colleges. “Would we be asking them for money in addition to blood now in case the patient is not in a government hospital,” he said. He said most of the donors were unable to pay for the transport to and from the hospital and the new arrangement could discourage them further.
A senior doctor at SMHS Hospital, aware of the situation, said charging a voluntary donor for consumables and disposables for donation would hit the already diminished count of blood donations in Kashmir. “How many people would want to donate Rs 850 along with a bag of blood. This is unfair,” he said.
Dr Sheikh Bilal Ahmed, who is in-charge of SMHS Hospital Blood Bank said the case of payment pertaining to a private nursing home. “For in-house patients, blood does not cost anything. In fact, we provide refreshment worth Rs 25 to every donor. However, for patients admitted in private nursing homes, if they wish to get blood from the Bank here, they have to give a donor and Rs 850,” he said.
Dr Sumir Mattoo, Director of JK State AIDS Control Organisation said the blood bags and other items are being purchased by the institutions having the Blood Banks. He said NACO (National AIDS Control Organisation) which used to cover all costs of blood donations and has been instrumental in setting up modern blood banks across the districts was in a state of transformation. “Currently, the supplies are not being provided by the Organizations and there are clear cut instructions to health institutions to stock their own blood donation consumables and disposable,” he said.