Surgeries push up demand for blood but donations continue to lag

Donors can volunteer without fear or hesitation, as hospitals across the State are equipped with all the COVID SOP’s.
Surgeries push up demand for blood but donations continue to lag
Students donate at Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education & Research Center

CHENNAI: The blood donation in Tamil Nadu has dropped by around 30% in the last 2 years, as camps have not been organised due to COVID-19. Vaccination was another factor why people hesitated. Additionally, the symptoms of long COVID-19 have been hampering the blood donation drives.

In 2021, the State had collected just 3.43 lakh units of blood, which according to sources is just 60-70% when compared to the pre-COVID levels. In 2015, the annual blood collection was 8.45 lakh units.

As non-COVID surgical procedures are being done, the demand for blood and blood components has also increased. But blood donation has not come back to pre-pandemic times when there was consistency in supply.

“For emergency needs during the pandemic, we contacted voluntary donors who donate regularly. When colleges reopen, we’ll conduct camps, of course with permission from the Corporation and police department officials, and ensuring COVID-19 protocol is followed,” explained Dr K Duraisamy, district blood transfusion officer, professor and HoD of Blood Bank, Kilpauk Medical College and Hospital.

The blood donation camps that used to be held at IT parks and other office spaces were stopped due to work-from-home practice. Camps organised by NSS and NCC camps in colleges largely contributed to the blood collected by the blood banks. However, online classes during the pandemic impacted the collection.

“It’s a good sign that COVID-19 does not spread through blood but the organisation of the blood donation camps in a college can cause institutional clusters if someone is affected. That’s why we have to be very careful while organising such camps. We give donors a form to fill in so that if they’re experiencing any symptoms or have a history of travel or exposure, it can be checked,” said Dr S Subhash, joint director (Blood Safety) at TN State Blood Transfusion Council.

Doctors say that there are misconceptions related to COVID-19 and people should be encouraged to donate blood after they have recovered or vaccinated as per protocols.

“People suffering from illness like haemorrhage, accidents, surgeries, bone marrow transplantation, cancer chemotherapy and stem cell transplants require blood product transfusion on a regular basis. Treatment cannot stop for such ailments. During the management of road traffic accidents, blood becomes vital,” says Dr Shanmugha Priya, Fortis Hospital.

Donors can volunteer without fear or hesitation, as hospitals across the State are equipped with all the COVID SOP’s.

“One can also donate blood 28 days after he/she has recovered completely from COVID- 19 and 14 days after taking COVID-19 vaccination,” she pointed out.

Rs 10 lakh to launch app that registers regular donors: Health Minister

TN Health Minister Ma Subramanian donated blood and awarded 61 regular voluntary donors at a programme on ‘World Blood Donors Day’ on Tuesday. “More people should come forward voluntarily to donate blood. As many as 3.43 lakhs units of blood have been collected in the past year at 97 government blood centres, 220 private blood centres, 373 government blood banks, 139 private blood banks and 42 government blood components analysis centres,” he said. The State Health Department has allocated Rs 10 lakh to launch a mobile app for people to register for blood donation. This also ensures a database of regular voluntary blood donors. The department is also planning on building new blood banks and ART centres to benefit more than 1.70 lakh people in the State. “At least 9 private medical college hospitals will be given permission to start Anti Retroviral Treatment (ART) Centres,” he added.

District hospital steps up to improve blood donation

World Blood Donor Day was observed in various parts of the district on Tuesday. To mark the occasion, special camps to donate blood to help the needy were organised in several educational institutions and hospitals. On the occasion, Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre, Madurai launched a signature campaign, titled ‘I will donate blood. I will save lives’, to raise awareness about blood donation. Medical administrator Kannan inaugurated the programme.

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