When it comes to donating blood to save the lives of others, Indians lag far, far behind other countries.
On an average, 50 out of 1,000 people donate blood in developed countries and 10 out of 1,000 in developing countries, but in India, the figure is as low as 5 out of 1,000, according to the Indian Red Cross Society.
“It’s surprising that India is facing an acute shortage, considering we have a young population which accounts for almost 80 per cent of blood donation the world over,” says Dr S.P. Agarwal, Secretary General, Indian Red Cross Society.
India is facing an acute shortage of blood, with only 5.5 million units (300 cc) collected when the demand is for 8 million. “There is an over 30 per cent deficit in the supply and demand and the reasons are shortage of donors and inefficient use of donated blood,” says Agarwal.
Each unit of blood donated can save three lives, but it saves just one in India. The reason: the country does not have enough blood component separators to break each unit into plasma, platelets and RBCs (red blood corpuscles).
While Red Cross and hi-tech private blood banks have blood component separators, most medical colleges and district hospitals don’t, resulting in inefficient use of blood.
Last year, the National AIDS Control Organisation funded the installation of blood separators priced at Rs 50,000 each at 80 medical colleges by 2012 to ensure whole blood is not used when only one of its components is needed.