World Blood Donor Day 2021: Why donations must go on even in the times of COVID-19-Health News , Firstpost

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The science of manufacturing blood in labs is still elusive to mankind, and it can only come from generous donors.

During the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, with institutions closed and the lockdowns in place, blood banks experienced a severe shortage of blood supplies.

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There is a constant need for blood and blood components, and donations are essential to community health. Every day, blood transfusion is required by thousands of people to keep them healthy or to enable them to stay alive. Blood loss due to an accident or illness, or a hematological condition affecting the production of red blood cells can be detrimental, as there will not be enough oxygen or other nutrients to maintain functioning of vital organs.

Thrombocytopenia (or platelet drop) is seen in a number of infection cases such as malaria, dengue, etc. Blood components such as platelets are crucial in the management of these infections.

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World Blood Donor Day 2021 Why donations must go on even in the times of COVID19

During the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, with institutions closed and lockdowns in place, blood banks experienced a severe shortage of blood supplies.

The science of manufacturing blood in labs is still elusive to mankind, and it can only come from generous donors.

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Blood donation in the time of COVID-19

During the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, with institutions closed and lockdowns in place, blood banks experienced a severe shortage of blood supplies. In the initial stage of the pandemic, as non-COVID work and surgeries decreased due to the entire focus being on treatment of COVID patients, the acute shortage did not cause a major crisis. However, now that we have realised non-COVID work and surgeries must go on simultaneously, there is a need to ramp up donation drives.

Another setback to blood donations would’ve been the earlier policy set out by health authorities — blood cannot be donated for 28 days after each dose of the vaccine.

As most of the eligible donors falling in the 18-44 age category were to get inoculated from 1 May and wouldn’t be able to donate for almost one month, the country would’ve faced a huge shortage.

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However, this was revised. NEGVAC has recommended that an individual can donate blood after 14 days of getting vaccinated or testing RT-PCR negative if they were suffering from COVID-19 .

Benefits of blood donation

Apart from being a noble act, blood donation confers certain benefits to the donor. They are:

  • As donors undergo pre-screening, undiagnosed conditions such as anaemia, hypertension, etc. may be detected early and can be treated.
  • Blood-borne infections such as HIV, hepatitis B and C can be detected
  • Donating one unit of blood may save lives of up to three people. Blood donors provide a vital service to the community. Making a difference in the lives of others can boost a donor’s sense of well-being.
  • Pre-screening can identify people with obesity, and studies show that blood donation may burn calories.
  • It stimulates the production of blood cells.
  • People with iron overload states such as haemochromatosis may benefit from the bloodletting, which is like phlebotomy.
  • Blood donation offers some protection against cardiovascular disease.

Blood donor checklist

  • Donors should be in good health at the time of donation and free of infections transmissible by blood.
  • Should be free from skin diseases at the site of phlebotomy.
  • Should be between the age of 18-65 years.
  • Weight of the donor should be more than 50 kg.
  • Should have a haemoglobin level of over 12.5 gm.
  • Whole blood donation can be done once in three months for males and once in four months for females.

Blood donation facts

  • Donated blood will be replaced in 56 days (less than two months).
  • The donor will not become ‘weak’ after blood donation.
  • A person has five to six litres of blood in their body.
  • One can donate blood every 90 days (every three months).
  • It takes only 15 to 20 minutes to donate blood.

The author is a consultant in the Department of Infectious Diseases, Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre.

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