A week ago, a crisis hit the family of Shahed Alam's best friend -- there was no donor available to donate blood for his pal's cancer-stricken father. After unsuccessfully knocking the doors of blood banks across the city for two days, Shahed finally decided to harness the power of social media on Saturday, but to no avail.
"I have been trying hard to arrange blood for my friend's father -- a cancer patient admitted to Mohakhali Cancer Hospital -- since last week. But finding donors is turning out to be a Herculean task amid the nationwide lockdown. Due to strict movement restrictions and the fear of Covid, blood donors are just not stepping out of their homes," he told UNB.
Yes, the Covid-19 lockdown has severely affected the movements of donors across the country, triggering a massive shortage of blood. Most blood banks in the capital as well as other parts of Bangladesh are running short of life-saving blood.
"Blood donors are just reluctant to come out these days. And those who do are often subjected to grilling at police check posts across the city. This is because the Good Samaritans don't possess the mandatory movement passes, and convincing the sentry at a police check post is also a time-consuming affair," said another city resident.
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Bangladesh's annual demand for blood is around 8 lakh units. About 25% of the nation's annual blood requirement come from voluntary donation, 20–25% from paid donors, and 50–55% from one-time donation for a particular patient. But the country has seen a drastic fall in both voluntary and direct blood donations in recent weeks.
The decline in blood donations has triggered a chain reaction -- plasma collection has been hit hard. Plasma is the liquid portion of blood that contains antibodies. Many countries have already allowed the use of plasma therapy to treat severely ill Covid patients. The therapy involves the use of plasma of recovered Covid patients as a potential treatment.