Dr. Manita Shrestha Rajkarnikar is currently working as a senior consultant at the Blood Transfusion Centre of Star Hospital, Sanepa. Previously she was the director at the Blood Transfusion Centre of Nepal Red Cross head office, Tahachal, Kathmandu.
She has also been working as an advisor to Blood Transfusion Service at Nepal Red Cross Society, Lalitpur District Committee. Here are some excerpts from an encounter with Dr. Manita about her career, contributions and current situation of blood transfusion in Nepal.
Manita, in her mid-fifties, has dedicated her entire life in the field of blood collection, transfusion and quality maintenance, which is a great service to humanity. Blood is a life giving substance for human being, as its demand is every where and all the time.
She has been involved in blood transfusion service as well as maintaining quality in blood transfusion centres nearly for three decades. How to manage blood effectively and how to provide blood transfusion service on time, is her main concern. She has worked in the Red Cross for 25 years. Besides, she has also served in TU Teaching Hospital, Valley Maternity Hospital and Prashuti Griha Maternity Hospital, Thapathali. At present she has been serving in the Star Hospital for about one year. She has provided valuable service in the hospital by installing blood transfusion facilities and operating the same.
“I had a dream to become a pilot during my childhood,” recalls Manita. She had also thought about becoming an engineer during her early age. But later her preference changed and she studied medicine with the aim to become a medical doctor. She got married at the age of 28 within the Newar community but with a different caste. She is married to Gautam Rajkarnikar, an engineer by profession. She, however, belongs to the Shrestha family. “It was a love plus arranged marriage in our case,” says Manita elaborating about her marriage.
She was born in Kumbheshwor in Lalitpur district and shifted to Naradevi, Kathmandu after her marriage. However, later her family shifted to Mahalaxmisthan near Lagankhel in Lalitpur. During the time of her marriage, she was working in the Valley Maternity Hospital.
Manita got the chance to study medicine in Czechoslovakia in 1985 and she received her MBBS and MD degree in 1992. She has two children, both daughters.
She was also involved in safe motherhood project during her service in the maternity hospital. The project was aimed at imparting breastfeeding training to new mothers. Her elder daughter is doing her Masters’ Degree in Environment Science, while the younger one has completed Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. There is no difference between son and daughter, according to Manita. She never felt the need to have a son after two daughters are born to her.
Now she wants to focus her attention more in providing quality blood transfusion service and effectively managing blood collection and transfusion. “These days, there is shortage of blood in hospitals as very few people are coming for donating blood,” says Manita. She encourages people to donate blood regularly as it also helps to maintain their health. She rejected the misconception that women should not donate blood to avoid any harmful effect in her health. Her main concern at the moment is to focus to ensure adequate supply of blood. We need to forecast the demand for blood in Kathmandu valley and to maintain sufficient blood in the storage.
We are mainly facing the shortage of platelet and PRP blood category these days as they cannot be stored for more than 3 to 5 days, says Dr. Manita. She encourages blood collecting organzations to organize blood donation programmes for 2-3 times a year as an individual can donate his or her blood for 3-4 times in a year.
We must take few measures for maintaining quality of blood, says Dr. Manita, who is also the blood transfusion expert. The needle should be sterilized and the blood should go screening tests to ensure that it is free from infections such as HIV, according to her. Finally, there is a need to maintain certain temperature to keep blood in the storage facility.