Covid-19 and Thalassemia
Blood transfusion dependent patients of thalassemia major (close to 2 lakhs in India), who need blood transfusions every 15-20 days, are facing unprecedented challenges due to the current pandemic. From availability of blood in blood banks to availability of transportation and transfusion facilities, there are multiple challenges being faced by these patients in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic. Problems vary in kind, size and degree across the length and breadth of India. For instance, while Kolkata is seeing blood donations, blood transfusion facilities are posing a challenge. Delhi, on the other hand, is battling blood availability due to cancellation of blood donation camps. Many NGOs and individuals across India are trying to salvage these patients from the current situation.
Following is how TPAG has been trying to help fellow patients in these challenging times. Our corresponding recommendations are also mentioned below:
1. A team of volunteers from amongst the members is trying to find donors for blood donations in hospitals (LHMC, LHNJP, GTB, Apollo, St. Stephens, etc.) and blood banks (e.g. IRCS blood bank) that cater to thalassemics. These volunteers are using cold calls, Facebook, and both national and regional donor platforms like Friends2Support, Blood Donors India, etc.
Facebook has been hand holding volunteers in this regard through their partner NGO called Sarthak Prayas.
We need support from Police and Army personel for donating blood and from blood banks to send their vehicles for blood collection from homes. We can also share our helpline numbers and it would greatly help if FICCI and its members could share those numbers on their platforms/ communication.
2. Another team of volunteers is helping with transportation of donors by generating e-passes based on donor passes received from hospitals and blood banks. Financial support is being extended for transportation of donors whose recipients are poor. This team is exploring a tie up with Uber.
We need support in terms of free passage of vehicles (private and commercial) carrying donors and patients. We also need financial support for transportation.
3. Yet another team of patient volunteers is raising awareness on social media platforms (https://www.facebook.com/pagthals/, @pagthals, https://www.linkedin.com/in/thalassemia-pag-269481199/) by uploading appeals from celebrities and patients themselves. Facebook has helped us ad credits of USD 2500 in this regard.
ACTOR VIKRAM KOCHHAR APPEALING FOR BLOOD DONATION
We need support in terms of amplification of our messages and appeals like these https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCf98jetoOc - by industry leaders and celebrities, who may be FICCI members.
4. Centres at Kolkata, Delhi and Maharashtra are facing an additional issue of patients travelling from far flung areas for transfusion. Further, fear of main blood transfusion centres getting converted to Covid-19 hospitals or borders being sealed is staring at the face of the community.
We need help in ensuring inter city passage of patients and vehicles carrying them, ensuring centres in cities remain open or get shifted to a suitable alternative nursing home.
Lastly, we wish to take this opportunity to express our heartfelt gratitude to FICCI, particularly to Ms. Shobha Mishra Ghosh, for taking up our cause and assuring us that we count! We have not seen this kind of care and support coming from any other association and compliment is therefore also due to Dr, Sangitha Reddy for ensuring healthcare gets is due consideration when everyone is talking about allaying the economic fears. Thanks for considering our existence!