KARACHI / SUKKUR: A person who saves a human life in any tragedy is immediately lauded as a hero, but it is a pity that someone who donates blood to save a life is hardly seen in the same light, the doctors lamented at a seminar organised by the Sindh health department.
The seminar was held to mark the World Blood Donor Day. This year’s theme is ‘Every blood donor is a hero’ and will be marked globally on Thursday, June 14.
Dr S Sarfaraz Jafry, the administrator of Hussaini Haematology and Oncology Trust, highlighted that the country needed 2.6 million units per day, while the current resources only amounted to 1.5 million units.
This gap between supply and demand cannot be bridged unless people donate blood voluntarily.
In fact, the doctors stressed that blood donated voluntarily was the healthiest since if people only donate blood in the case of emergencies then it increases the risk of reactivity and spreading illness. Voluntary blood donation makes up only five per cent of the total blood resources. Most of the blood comes from exchange or replacement donors, who account for 84 per cent of the total resource pool. On the other hand, 11 per cent of the blood donors are professionals – they sell their blood.
Who can donate blood
The Express Tribune talked to Dr Saqib Ansari of National Institute of Blood Diseases to elaborate who and under what condition can blood be donated. Dr Ansari pointed out that in Pakistan, the blood donation forms ask for completely irrelevant and superficial details from the donors. But the forms should ask the most uncomfortable and personal questions since someone’s blood can infect another.
He said that the forms should ask in detail about a person’s drug usage and sexual activity. The standards for someone donating blood are that he or she should be between the age of 18 and 60, weigh at least 50 kilogrammes, should not have had jaundice in the past two years and no major surgery in the last one year. The donor should also not have diabetes, blood pressure or cardiac problems. Their haemoglobin levels should be at least 12.5 g/dl and the donor must also not suffer from any infection or fever.
After donation, the blood should be screened for HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis, malaria and other transferrable diseases.
According to the chairman of Sukkur Blood and Drugs Donating Society, Dr Mohammad Naeem, 3.3 million bags of blood were required every year in Pakistan but the obtained amount was one-third of it.
He was talking to journalists in an event held to mark the World Blood Donors Day, being celebrated today.
Dr Naeem said that most of the infectious diseases in Pakistan were caused because of poor screening of blood. Speaking about the work of his society, he said that it screened blood for hepatitis B, hepatitis-C, HIV, malaria and other viruses as well.
He said that many people were reluctant to donate blood voluntarily but with a little persuasion on part of the society, more people were donating blood by choice in Sukkur. So far, 37 blood-donation camps had been set up this year in different areas of northern Sindh, where 4,200 people gave blood.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2012.