Sonia's birthday proves boon for 'blood-starved' Maharashtra
As Maharashtra grapples with a severe shortage of blood in recent weeks, the state Congress on Wednesday launched a 10-day long blood donation drive in the state to mark the 74th birthday of party President Sonia Gandhi.
"Through this initiative, we plan to collect over 25,000 bags of blood in the state. The current shortage is so severe that barely 2-3 days of blood stocks are left in Maharashtra," said state Congress chief and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat.
The blood donation drive comes barely a couple of days after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray appealed to the masses to come forward for the noble life-saving cause and donate blood in large numbers.
Besides the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party plans to hold a series of blood donation camps in the state to mark the 80th birthday of party supremo Sharad Pawar, which was on September 12.
In an unusual initiative, the Shiv Sena's youth wing, Yuva Sena leader and Municipal Corporator Samadhan Sarvankar has organised a blood donation camp on December 13 where the donors were be presented with 1 kg of chicken or 'paneer'.
Targetting to collect 1,000 bags, nearly 500 people have registered for the upcoming drive to donate blood at his office in Prabhadevi.
"I was struck by the idea when I read a WHO report saying that poultry and dairy products are good sources of proteins besides being immunity boosters. Since the pandemic is on, we decided to gift chicken or paneer to the non-vegetarian or vegetarian donors as per their choice," Sarvankar told media persons.
Besides Thackeray, Health Minister Rajesh Tope has also made regular appeals exhorting people to step out and donate blood even as the State Blood Transfusion Council (SBTC) takes a daily review of the blood stocks.
As per the SBTC status last week, there were 19,059 units of blood and 2,583 units of platelets available in the 344 blood banks in the state.
Of these, 3,239 units of blood and 611 units of platelets are currently in stock in the 58 blood banks in Mumbai, which is considered inadequate given the population and needs.
Health officials said that the state is suffering from blood shortage owing to the 10 months of lockdown when regular blood donation camps have not been held.
"Usually, there are blood donation drives conducted almost daily across the state in colleges, public-private institutions and even donation camps by NGOs or medical institutions. All this has virtually halted during the pandemic, leading to the current crisis," a health officer told IANS, requesting anonymity.
If the situation is not tackled on top priority, medical circles apprehend that scheduled or emergency surgeries may be hit badly.
Responding to the appeals by the CM, several NGOs and other organisations in collaboration with private and public hospitals are now planning to organise blood donation drives in the state. - IANS