Blood screening vital before transfusion

Kathmandu, June 26

Donating blood is a noble pursuit which saves lives of patients in critical condition. Such thought of nobility encourages many to donate blood, however, there are chances of infections being present in the donors’ blood. Donors are unaware of the infection in their blood.

Engaging in behaviour such as having multiple sex partners, drug abuse and getting tattoos, increases the chances of blood infection among donors’. Likewise, sex workers and persons infected with Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, might also possess infected blood. Such persons should not donate blood.

Dr Anup Bastola, consultant Tropical Medicine Physician/HIV and dermatologist at Sukraraj Tropical Infectious Disease Hospital says, “It is better for such persons to know that they shouldn’t donate blood. In such cases, after donation of blood — antibody detection requires three months to detect the infection”. Two patients of Sukraraj Hospital tested positive for HIV due to transfusion of infected blood.

It is hard to detect infected blood within the window period, as Nepal lacks World Health Organisation’s standard protocols. Before transfusion, blood screening is required along with different tests performed with various kits as well as anti-body detection kits. Transfusion of untested donated blood is the main reason patients get infected.

Last year’s data from Nepal Red Cross Society Blood Transfusion Service shows — of the 230,000 pints of blood collected, 0.03 per cent (69 pints) was detected HIV/AIDS infected, 0.33 per cent  (759 pints) was infected with hepatitis B, 0.23 per cent (529 pints) hepatitis C and 0.41 per cent (942 pints) contained syphilis.

“It takes three months to detect infected blood during the window period and in most cases it cannot be detected as life of the blood transfused from the human body has only 30 days. A pint of blood does have greater value, because of these reasons the patients might have been infected, but it has become absolutely necessary to screen the blood before transfusion,” said Dr Rekha Manandhar Shrestha, consultant pathologist, National Public Health Laboratory and coordinator of National Bureau for Blood Transfusion Service.

For a solution, donors’ themselves must be aware about their blood health. In Nepal, several organisations, NGOs and social groups organising blood donation programmes in order to help Nepal Red Cross Society and hospitals require preliminary knowledge of blood screening and tests before blood transfusion, she informed.

“It is necessary to make people aware about such risks related to blood donation. We have been working to reduce such cases. We have made some changes in the guidelines for conducting blood donation programmes,” informed Dr Rekha.