BIRATNAGAR, June 2: Basanti Devi Mahato, a resident of Paschim Kushaha VDC in Sunsari district, was admitted to Koshi Zonal Hospital in Biratnagar for uterus surgery last week. Doctors asked Basnati Devi´s nephew Santosh to arrange one pint of B positive blood before surgery.
Santosh relentlessly searched for blood for a week but to no avail. Eventually, he had to take her back. Once at home, Basati Devi´s condition deteriorated. She was again rushed to the zonal hospital. Santosh looked for B positive blood at BP Koirala Institute of Health Science, Dharan, too. But, the BPKIHS-based blood bank also failed to help Santosh.
Luckily, the Youth for Blood, a local NGO, found out a person whose blood group matched with Basanti Devi´s. "We are relieved now," says Santosh. Doctors are all set to conduct Basanti Devi´s surgery on Sunday.
With the regional blood bank of Biratnagar facing an acute blood shortage, patients like Basanti Devi have been hit hard.
Doctors at the zonal hospital have been unable to conduct even emergency surgeries due to the severe blood shortage. Around 40-50 people whose near and dear ones desperately need blood have been returning empty-handed every day.
"We do not want to disappoint patients but we are helpless," says Rajan Niraula, one of staffers at the regional blood bank.
"We cannot accept even those patients who are in desperate need of surgeries," says Gynecologist Dr Yogendra Mishra.
The zonal hospital is not the only health facility to be hit hard by the blood shortage. The regional blood bank supplies blood to several hospitals in the eastern region. All these hospitals are now facing blood crisis.
Reason behind blood shortage
According to Nepal Red Cross Society, frequency of blood donation programs had declined due to recent strikes. Even after the strikes came to an end following the demise of Constituent Assembly (CA), frequency of blood donation program is yet to pick up. This has led to a severe blood crisis in the eastern region.
However, low frequency of blood donation program is not the only reason behind the recent blood shortage. Nepal Red Cross Society had last year increased fees for blood, irking regular blood donors. Following the vehement criticism by blood donors, Red Cross slightly decreased the fees. But, blood donors are still unhappy with the new fee structure.
"Blood is essentially meant to be free of cost," says Bijaya Hari Khatiwada, a former employee of the regional blood bank. "However, Red Cross has been charging as much as Rs 740 from patients for one pint of blood." The “unjustified” fee for blood has discouraged donors.