At 20.15 lakh, Uttar Pradesh has the highest rate of blood collection through replacement donors, a practice discouraged by National Blood Bank Policy 2002, followed by Karnataka (9.88 lakh).
Simply put, replacement donation refers to blood given by a relative or friend in lieu of blood transfused to a patient from the hospital stock. It is a common practice across public as well as private medical institutions.
Research shows replacement donations carry a higher risk of infection such as Hepatitis B and C and HIV among others as compared to voluntary donations. “Patients often arrange for professional donors if they cannot find someone from among family and friends. They conceal medical history, which makes it difficult to rule out infection,” explained a doctor on the condition of anonymity .
The doctor added that tests to screen donated blood through Elisa third generation kit can fail if the infection has been contracted three months before donations.
Dr Vijay Kumar from the geriatric division of AIIMS said hospitals seek replacement donors because there is a scarcity of voluntary donors and hospitals have to maintain their stocks.
“There is an urgent need for registry of voluntary donors and giving them incentives. We must do away with this practice of replacement donations because it is fraught with higher risk of infection and causes avoidable stress to pati ent’s family,” Kumar said. Resident doctors at AIIMS, Kumar added, are creating a list of voluntary donors from among themselves to help the needy .
Delhi has 69 blood banks of which 34 are run by private hospitals, 11by Delhi government hospitals, nine by central government hospitals, eight by voluntary organisations and three by municipal corporations. There are four private blood banks.
The RTI filed by Chetan Kothari from Mumbai shows 1.66 lakh units of blood were collected through replacement donations in Delhi in 2012-13.In 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17, the figures stood at 1.88, 1.94, 2.21 and 2.14 lakh units, respectively.
Dr Bharat Singh, who heads Delhi State Blood Transfusion Cell (DSBTC), said that replacement donations are higher in private hospitals as compared to government hospitals and blood banks. “DSBTC can only recommend or suggest hospitals to seek more blood through donation. We do not have staff or infrastructure to organise camps for voluntary donation,” he said.
A study to find prevalence of Transfusion Transmitted Infections (TTIs) in voluntary and replacement donors by a Karnataka-based medical college in 2010 found that out of 9,599 blood donors, 58 (0.6%) were tested reactive for blood transmitted infection.
Out of these, 38 (65%) were replacement donors. The prevalence of HIV was 0.06% in total donors; more in replacement (four) as compared to voluntary (two donors). The prevalence of Hepatitis B in total donors was 0.34% (33 cases).
The prevalence of Hepatitis C was also found to be higher in replacement donors, the researchers stated in the study that was published in Indian Journal of Hematology and blood transfusion.