Donating one unit of blood can save three lives. Here’s how
Each unit of blood donated is separated into four major components -- platelets, plasma, red blood cells and white blood cells -- which can be used to save at least three lives. Despite that, there is a 15-20% shortfall between supply and demand for blood in India at any given time, with the gap widening to 25-30% in summer.Updated: Jun 14, 2017 11:03 IST
New Delhi: Along with rivers and water bodies, blood banks in India run dry each summer. May and June are particularly hard for patients because India’s blood banks depend primarily on voluntary blood donations from healthy university students and young professionals, who are often away on vacation during summer months.
At any given time, there is a 15-20% shortfall between supply and demand for blood in India. This gap widens to a 25-30% shortfall during summer months.
As against the requirement of about 10-11 million units of blood each year, the annual collection in India is 8.5-9 million units, most of which comes from voluntary blood donors.
“Voluntary donations account for around 80% of blood donations in India. My friend recently needed blood and even though I am part of one of India’s biggest blood banks, it took me 10 hours to arrange two units of blood for him,” said an official at the Indian Red Cross Society’s Blood Bank in New Delhi.
It takes just a few minutes to donate blood, with each unit of blood donated being used to save at least three lives. “We can segregate blood components these days and one unit is used to save a minimum of three lives,” said the official.
It’s not a problem unique to India. Around 15.6 million units of donated blood is collected in World Health Organisation (WHO)’s South-East Asia Region each year against the 18 million units needed.
In the National Capital Region alone, Red Cross’ Blood Bank issues 60,000 units of blood and blood components to government hospitals, private hospitals and thalassemic patients annually.
There are 1,000 persons with thalassaemia registered with Red Cross Society of India, which issue 15,000-20,000 units of blood to them annually. People with thalassaemia need blood every 15 days for life.
“We cater to not just Delhi’s thalassaemia population but also to people from Patna, Kanpur, Agra, Gwalior etc,” said the Red Cross official.
The WHO estimates that between 1% and 3% of a country’s population need blood in a year. About 65% of India’s population are young adults and even if half of them donate blood a couple of times a year, shortages will not happen.
If there are enough voluntary donors, the practice of replacement donation can be done away with . “Patient should be a responsibility of the hospital just like providing medicines. One shouldn’t be forced to provide a replacement donor,” said the official from Red Cross.
The government aims to promote voluntary blood donations in a big way. “Our focus is to achieve 100% voluntary blood donations by 2020,” Union health minister JP Nadda had tweeted while inaugurating a blood donation camp last year.
Who can donate
* Any healthy person between the ages of 18 and 65
* Must be free of all major illnesses
* Must not have a seasonal infection
* Should not be on antibiotics, blood thinners or antidepressant medicines
* Must not be pregnant or lactating
* Should not be anaemic: haemoglobin below 12.5gm/dl
* Should not have donated within last three months
First Published: Jun 14, 2017 11:03 IST