Thalassemia patients in West Bengal are facing a tough time as the blood banks in the state have gone dry due to restrictions on people's movement and a bar on donation drives amid the 21-day lockdown imposed to contain coronavirus epidemic.
The state has around 25,000 thalassemia patients who require blood on regular intervals.
Tapas Sengupta, whose 32-year-old son suffers from thalassemia, said that blood banks in the Kolkata are running completely dry due to the lockdown.
"It is a matter of survival. Other than blood, nothing can save them. They cannot regenerate blood," Mr Sengupta said.
"Just as we need food. they need blood. It they don't get it, they will not survive," he added.
Soumya Santra, who is also a thalessemic and a doctor, said that many patients may lose their lives due to non-availability of blood.
"At present my Haemoglobin count is 7.5. If I am not urgently transfused in the next few days, my haemoglobin will fall even further. I will possibly end up in a government hospital," Dr Santra said
"If the situation is not addressed, then I think along with corona, we will lose many patients to anemia as well for lack of blood," he added.
The lockdown has led to complete closure of blood donation camps.
While people themselves are scared of getting exposed to the virus, the authorities are also not giving permission due to the fear of crowding and violation of social distancing norms.
The state government had formulated rules for blood donation camps a day before the lockdown - maximum 30 donors, 4 to 5 donors at a time, not more than 3 volunteers at each camp and strict social distancing.
However, no donation camps have been held since then.
The CEO of one of Kolkata's private blood banks, Lifecare, said they were being forced to turn people away, including thalassemics.
He estimated that current supplies are not even 10 per cent of the normal.
Normally, 6000 units of blood are supplied each month. In March, it has been able to supply barely 400 units.
"Most thalassemia patients are not coming. They know how the situation is. I don't know how they are managing. But it is a huge crisis. If somebody wants to donate also in friends circle or relatives, there is a fear psychosis that if I go, I can get infected with the corona virus. So better not to go," he said.
Not just the thalassemia, there's a shortage of blood even for the emergency surgeries in the accident and caesarian cases.