gurvinder singh 
KOLKATA, 19 JUNE: The shortage of blood component bags supplied by the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) in government-run blood banks in the state has provided ample opportunity to their private counterparts to mint money from helpless people.  
Though the first bags for storing the whole blood is adequate in quantit,. it is the supply of double, triple and fourth bags that have taken a hit.  
These bag are used for storing Red Blood Cells, Plasma, and Platelets, more important is the role of the last bag as it contains Cryo Precipitate used to administer factor 8 and 9 in the Haemophilia patients.  
The crisis has now reached a saturation point in the majority of 58 state blood banks in the state. 
“The supply should always be more than the demand to act as a cushion for the bags which get waste during use, but the situation is reverse here,” said a senior doctor who didn’t wish to be named.  
The director of the Health department, Dr BR Satpathy, admitting the supply crisis, said a tender has been floated to procure the bags and the situation is expected to be normal in a few weeks.  
“We have floated the tender for the procurement of bags and the crisis would be solve within a month.” 
“The State Blood Transfusion Council has a stock of 70,000 bags and everything would be normal before the stock ends.” added the director of health services.   
He, however, refused to speak about the exact reason that led to the present crisis. 
Sources in the health department, however, attributed a number of reasons for the shortage that include untimely submission of utilization, shortage of funds, and problems in grants. 
The claims that there was no shortage was, however, contradicted by the officials of the government blood banks.  “We collect around 30,000 units of blood annually, but the huge gap between the demand and supply is hampering the component separation of blood for the past two months,” said Mr Krishnendu Mukherjee,  head of the department of Immunohaemotology and blood transfusion (IHBT) at Calcutta Medical College and Hospital.   
Meanwhile, the deficiency has given an opportunity to the private blood banks to  fleece helpless people.  
When this correspondent visited some of the blood banks in the city, it was found that a single unit of blood, which is available between Rs 50-Rs 140 at government hospitals, is being sold for around Rs 800 and more depending upon the urgency of the customer. 
The office-bearers at Indian Red Cross Society said, they are aware of the crisis and have sought permission from the government to start a blood bank to provide blood at cheaper rate to the people and prevent the black marketing of the life-saving commodity.