Despite its 22 million inhabitants, Mumbai has been grappling with the problems faced by blood banks due to scarcity in the recent past. However, there is a silver lining, say doctors and experts as they find an increased awareness about blood donation among the city youth, who have been participating in large numbers at the various blood donation camps being held across the city.
Donation drives are the need of the hour
Recently, the State Blood Transfusion Council (SBTC) had asked Mumbai’s government-run blood banks to organise camps for blood donation at various railway stations. Last week the collection at CST and Churchgate stations was around 741 units, according to officials. Says Dr Neelam Nirjhara, HOD of a blood bank in a city hospital, “Blood donation camps should be conducted across the year as this leads to blood being stored for a longer period of time due to accumulation at blood banks. This can then be disbursed to hospital and medical centres who present their requirement.”
Vinay Shetty, who has been working in the field of blood donation for many years and heads a foundation that organises blood donation camps and deals with Thalassaemia patients, says, “Organising as many blood donation camps as possible is the need of the hour. Just telling people ‘donate blood’ will not help, we need to provide camps for it. My foundation organises camps daily. Today, we have organised more than 13 camps across Mumbai. And in all, the city might see around 40 camps.”
Young adults are more aware and open about donating blood
Doctors feel that it is the young who are active and at the forefront of most donation drives. Dr Nirjhara informs, “Many younger adults are coming forward and donating blood. They are often well-informed about it as colleagues frequently conduct blood donation drives through the NSS. A lot of private and civic outfits are also making efforts to encourage their employees to come forth for blood donation camps, which are often hosted on the premises.” It was reported last week that a recent amendment to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1945, will now allow private blood banks to conduct donation camps. Earlier, only licensed banks run by registered charitable organisations, the government or the Indian Red Cross Society, were allowed to organise blood donation camps . Activists say that this will help to up the reserves.
Dr Rajesh Gokani, general practitioner and lifestyle diseases management advisor at a city hospital, adds, “There has been significant increase in the number of youth coming forward to donate blood. Also, people who have relatives in hospitals that require blood transfusion can relate to the situation at hand more emphatically. They often tend to donate blood at various donation camps.” This is a positive sign for the city that has seen blood banks turn away patients even during emergencies, due to the drastic shortage faced by them. Activists hope that the decline seen in blood donation during the summer vacation, will be restored soon in the coming months.
Dr Gokani adds, “The lower strata of society needs to be informed of the same. This can only be achieved through educational campaigns and initiatives. There is always a requirement at blood banks, and to ensure that the same is duly made available at the time of need, frequent donation camps and mass awareness are essential.”
Mini donation camps
Last week, a hospital chain held a blood donation drive for their staffers. This was in the wake of celebrating the World Blood Donor Day. “Small donation camps at corporate offices, banks, and even malls add to the reserves,” says Shetty.
Going by the numbers
Dr PM Bhujang, president of the association of hospitals, says, “A total of 2,50,000 bottles of blood was donated in the Bombay Blood Bank in 2015, the numbers rose in the year 2016. There are 42 registered blood banks registered with the Federation of Bombay Blood banks, who have helped in increasing awareness among youngsters on the positive health benefit of blood donation.”