By Pranjal Pathak:
Blood is an irreplaceable fluid fundamental to every human being’s existence. It is something required in considerable amount to treat patients suffering from diseases like thalassemia, cancer, leukaemia, renal diseases, burns and patients undergoing major surgeries, especially in case of emergencies due to road accidents. Due to the rapid increase in the number of road accidents the demand for blood is burgeoning in the healthcare departments throughout. India, as a developing nation should give utmost priority to the healthcare facilities owing to its overwhelming population.
The sad fact remains that in India, human life is not given its due importance, most things being taken for granted. One life lost does not make much difference to anyone. The responsibility for collecting blood required for the operations is put on the shoulders of the patient’s relatives (i.e. if he/she is lucky enough to have one). Even when less amount of blood units are required for transfusion, the doctors demand for more than twice or in some cases even thrice the amount. Here the role of private players comes into play. Drug addicts and extremely poor people are lured into this practice on a regular basis, for money. Thus blood has become a commodity which is bought and sold at all prices.
Most lives lost are not due to the lack of availability of blood but because of the negligence by the staff. Inappropriate blood transfusion, wastage of blood units and their improper maintenance such as inadequate monitoring of blood, reuse of disposable syringes without proper sterilization are some of the major factors.
In India, the major problem lies within the infrastructure: It is weak and the basic facilities like blood bank refrigerators, continuous electricity and water supply, centrifuge machines, microscopes etc. are not available. Moreover, the man-power employed is not efficient i.e. the staff at most centres is not adequately trained or qualified to conduct the process of blood transfusion and storage. Even technologically, we are not as better off as we would have hoped to be. Throughout India, hardly any facilities are available to avail the optimal use of blood by using latest transfusion techniques. There has been no standardization nor have the safety procedures been followed properly even after the recommendations by the government to follow-up and utilize the schemes for modernized techniques. This clearly depicts the sorry state of our country where there is lack of implementation of the recommended policies and procedural changes.
There are certain measures which are supposed to be taken up by the hospitals or the blood banks in order to reduce the aforementioned problems. Every worker of the staff should be trained on how to work safely with the equipments, chemicals and patient specimens, adhering to the manufacturer’s safety guidelines. They should be given proper training to maintain hygiene while working with blood samples as the risk of infection in these circumstances is very high and can be fatal to the patient’s as well as the donor’s health. They should be made aware of the potential health risks they expose others to due to the negligence in hygiene. Special care should be given to the syringes used in these processes and blood and its products must be discarded in sanitary sewers whenever required. Confidentiality should be maintained at all costs in the reports and all the records should be made legible.
What India actually needs is a national blood bank programme. According to the medical criteria, a person can donate blood after an interval of three months i.e. four times a year depending on their health and age. The government must take up initiatives to advance and upgrade their current technology. With that we shall be able to divide blood into its three separate components — RBC’s, fresh frozen plasma and platelets, and use whichever component is required. This judicious use of blood can prove to be very fruitful in the long run.
Apart from the various technical reasons, another hurdle witnessed in this process is the considerably low number of voluntary donors available. This is due to the lack of awareness and a series of misconceptions that follows it. Hence people should be made aware about the procedure of blood donation and its effects, dispelling the many misconceptions that may have in their minds. It will result in a considerable reduction of the gap existing between the demand and supply. Donating blood is a very simple task requiring hardly 6 minutes of one’s time. Anyone who passes the medical test can donate blood without any side effects. In fact some researchers have shown that donating blood is actually good for your body. Moreover, the happiness after donating blood, i.e. the realization that we have made a difference to someone’s life is much more than the fear before doing it. As many as three lives can be saved from a single unit of blood donated.
Organizing a blood donation camp is not as a tedious task as it seems to be. The government has not laid any stringent laws regarding it. The main necessity is of the volunteers and contacting a regional blood camp which is needed in case of an emergency. There is no substitute available for the requirement of blood hence we need to increase the number of blood donation camps. This can be achieved by informing the public about blood donation drives by advertising it through billboards, newspapers, TV ads and other electronic media and by ensuring that the process of blood donation is made convenient for donors. Today, in spite of the city’s moribund in which the people are trapped, good intentions have not died out entirely and it is due to various other constraints that they are not able to come forward and make their contribution. Scheduling such camps in offices, colleges, malls etc. can help to overcome this problem.
The youth of the country play a major role in this issue and they should be encouraged to come together and join hands to help in every way possible. They can organise and promote such camps in and around their colleges and offices, thus bringing everyone under one roof with only one purpose in mind – “To save lives of their fellow beings“. One of the most successful and popular examples of such an initiative is The Rotary Club, which has set up a number of blood banks in various parts of the country and thus engaged itself towards this social cause. Even BloodConnect in collaboration with Sapna NGO and CanSupport have been trying to solve such issues by collaborating with the government blood banks all over Delhi, eventually expanding their ventures to other cities as well.
Let us strive towards making India a country where blood transfusion will not be an issue, where most of the blood requirements shall be met by the hospital themselves without the involvement of the patient’s relatives and where blood donation would be simply a genuine act towards mankind and not a source to earn money. Someone’s tomorrow needs a blood donor today. Donate blood.