While facilitating, Blood Donation Drive under VBI (Volunteer for a Better India) came across shocking facts about blood scenario in India and our faulty new Blood Policy. If things continued like this, we would be importing synthetic blood from West shortly. Some NGO’s working in this field even allege that shortage is being created to prepare market for the import of synthetic blood. Clearly, a lot needs to be done and the first step is certainly creating awareness.

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INDIAN POPULATION: 1020 MILLIONS

TOTAL BLOOD REQUIREMENT:  9 – 9.5 MILLIONS UNITS/YEAR

AVAILABLE:  AROUND 5 – 5.5 MILLIONS UNITS/YEAR

SHORTAGE: MORE THAN 40%

  • Every two seconds someone in India needs blood
  • More than 50,000 blood donations are needed every day
  • Approximately 60% of the Indian population is eligible to give blood – only 1% does in a given year.
  • Most donated red blood cells must be used within 42 days of collection
  • 450ml of blood can save as many as three lives.
  • The need for blood will increase 5% each year.
  • One out of every three of us will need blood in our life time.

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There is a whooping blood deficit in India. This shortage has further been rendered acute due to the indiscriminate banning of several socio-economic ‘categories’ of people from donating blood and the resulting, inevitable and unprecedented hike in imports of blood products – the loss of lives due to unavailability of blood in emergencies and the increasing costs. And things could only get worse with the new blood policy cleared by the Union cabinet. It focuses on phasing out replacement donors from the blood transfusion programme and collecting blood only through voluntary non-remunerative donations. The current practice is for a patient to source blood from a bank, pay for it, and get relatives or friends to donate an equal amount of blood to replenish stocks. The new policy, according to NGOs, will severely affect blood collection. In 2001, replacement donors contributed 16.6 lakh units, while 13.4 lakh units were collected through voluntary donation camps. The huge gap of replacement donors will now have to be filled by voluntary donors which, say transfusion experts, is next to impossible and will worsen the scarcity and fuel a spurt in blood prices. It will also increase the import of blood products.

From an import bill of blood products which annually hovered around Rs. 25 lakhs in early 90s – shot up to an estimated Rs. 2000 crores in early 2000s, with international experts placing the figure closer to Rs. 3000 crores!

Apart from those with thalassemia and other conditions that require regular blood infusions, blood is also needed by those suffering from seasonal diseases like dengue.

In India people are quite prejudiced against blood donation. There are several myths surrounding blood donation, the most common being that you feel weak after donation. The fact is that only 70 per cent of the blood in your body is used by organs the other 30 per cent just keeps flowing in the body, acting as a safeguard against adversity. During the blood donation, only 350 to 450 ml of blood is taken from your body, which is replaced over a couple of days.

 

Health Benefits of Blood Donation

Burns Calories: One can diet or remain fit by donating blood regularly. One pint of blood (450 ml) when donated burns 650 calories in donor’s body. 

Enhances the production of new blood cells:  After donating blood, the count of blood cells decreases in our body.  This stimulates the bone marrow to produce new red blood cells in order to replenish the loss. So, it stimulates the production of new blood cells and refreshes the system.  Improves Heart’s health Regular blood donation helps especially males in loosing iron on regular basis.

Improves Heart Health : Another benefit of donating blood is that it reduces heart attack risk, and improves cardiovascular health. Florida Blood Services reports that regular blood donors who donate regularly over years have an 88 percent lower risk of heart attacks and a 33 percent lower risk of any severe cardiovascular event, such as a stroke. According to the Miller-Keystone Blood Center, consistent blood donation is associated with lowered risks for cancers including liver, lung, colon, stomach and throat cancers. Risk levels dropped in correlation with how often participants donated blood.

Saves Lives -When you donate blood, you impact not only the patient whose life may depend on your donation, but also all those who depend on that patient. The entire community will benefit from the spirit of generosity.

Enhances feeling of well-being in elderly people : Many elderly people who are in good health have reported feeling invigorated and re-energized by giving blood on a regular basis.

Regular donor can receive blood easily in their own need. One donation can help save the lives of up to three people.

Facts about the blood donation process

  • Donating blood is a safe process. A sterile needle is used only once for each donor and then discarded.
  • Blood donation is a simple four-step process: registration, medical history and mini-physical, donation and refreshments.
  • Every blood donor is given a mini-physical, checking the donor’s temperature, blood pressure, pulse and haemoglobin to ensure it is safe for the donor to give blood.
  • The actual blood donation typically takes less than 10-12 minutes. The entire process, from the time you arrive to the time you leave, takes about an hour and 15 min.
  • The average adult has about 10 units of blood in his body. Roughly 1 unit is given during a donation.
  • All donated blood is tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis and other infectious diseases before it can be transfused to patients.

 

The National average of voluntary donors is 4 per thousand. If this national average can be raised to 8 voluntary blood donor per 1000 population, there would not be any shortage of blood for the country and none would die for want of blood for transfusion

 

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Full time Art of Living Faculty, Currently associated with Volunteer For a Better India,
Twitter: @NeelamKochar

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