World Blood Donor Day is celebrated on June 14 to raise awareness of the importance of donating blood as the scope of applications is much greater than most people realize. Donating blood has been a critical cornerstone that has helped the world many times over, from plasma treatments to research and emergencies.
This day also represents a call to action for governments and national health authorities to allocate sufficient resources to increase blood collection from unpaid volunteers and manage access to blood and blood transfusions for those who need it. This year, the theme for World Blood Donor Day is “Doing blood is an act of solidarity. Join efforts and save lives” to draw attention to the roles that voluntary blood donation plays in saving lives and strengthening solidarity within communities.
Donating blood has always been an integral part of the functioning of the healthcare system, but in a post-COVID world, its importance can be emphasized enough. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a country needs 1 percent of its population in units of blood, a criterion that India did not meet even before the start of the COVID 19 outbreak.
Since the nationwide lockdown began in March 2020, there has been a sharp decline in the number of units of blood collected and the number of blood camps – despite an NBTC warning that donation services continue with caution. It doesn’t take much to guess why the numbers are down. As with newly emerging infectious diseases in the past, people have been wary of visiting crowded hospitals or blood collection camps for fear of contracting COVID-19.
Despite COVID19, blood is still needed in India to help people with thalassemia, anemia and blood cancers, among other conditions. Because PPH is one of the most common preventable causes of maternal death, hypoxia disproportionately affects women.
There is currently no indication that the coronavirus or other respiratory viruses can be spread by blood transfusion anywhere in the world.
Plasma can also be donated after recovering from Covid-19 disease. Convalescent plasma is when doctors collect plasma from previously infected COVID-19 patients and give it to current COVID-19 patients to help them fight the virus. One person up to four COVID-19 patients can benefit by donating convalescent plasma.
People who are eligible to donate blood should keep in mind the minimum length of time they must wait after the last dose of the vaccine. According to an order issued by the National Blood Transfusion Council (NBTC), a person cannot donate blood 28 days after vaccination after the last dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. People who have received Covaxin must wait at least 56 days before donating blood, and those who have received Covishield must wait up to 70 days.
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