Importance of blood donation

[ Tashor Pali ]
Arunachal Pradesh, being a tribal state, had many myths and misconceptions attached to blood donation.
One very popular and weird one was that if someone donated blood to a sick person and, god forbid, if that person died, the ‘ghost’ of that person would haunt the donor in real life as both were connected through blood.
The other myth was, if you donated blood to your wife or girlfriend, she became your sister as she would then be carrying your blood. Some have a belief that blood donation makes a person weak. These are some of the interesting and funny but weird and unfounded reasons floated by people, which discourage blood donors in our state.
Without going into the technical details, we must understand that blood is required on a daily basis for cancer, thalassemia and haemophilia patients, accident cases, and many other ailments. At the same time, we need to understand that in spite of making so much progress in the field of medical science by the human civilization till date, there is no substitute for blood. It’s a product which can only be produced in a human body. There is no factory or industry which can manufacture blood in order to make it available for needy patients.
So, in a simple language, blood is just priceless and it has to come from a human body only.
Blood donation, apart from giving a person a sense of self-satisfaction, has many health benefits, which include reduction of harmful iron stores, regeneration of new cells, preservation of cardiovascular health, burning of calories, reduction of cancer risk, and free blood analysis.
The requirement of blood is calculated at the ratio of 1.5 percent of the total populations every year. This means that our state, with a population of around 1.2 million, needs roughly 18,000 units of blood every year. However, the collection has been very less.
The voluntary blood donation scenario in our state was almost negligible until a few years back. But in the recent times, it has improved a lot with the collection hovering at around 8000 to 9000 annually. Still, it is very less compared to the annual requirement.
But with the coming up of NGOs like the AVDO, I Love Arunachal and CBOs like the GWS, etc, and with the establishment of the State Blood Transfusion Council [SBTC] under the directorate of health services, the voluntary blood donation movement has gained momentum in the state. The tempo generated needs to be maintained and accelerated in the days to come through robust IEC campaigns, so that every individual understands the invaluable gift we all can give to humanity without losing anything.
Today is World Blood Donor Day, which is observed across the world every year on 14 June, which is the birthday of Austrian physician and Nobel laureate Karl Landsteiner, who discovered the blood groups in human body.
This is one of the eight public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organization, along with the World Health Day, the World AIDS Day, the World Malaria Day, the World No Tobacco Day, the World Hepatitis Day, the World Tuberculosis Day, and the World Immunization Week.
The day is organized mainly to generate awareness on the need for safe blood and blood products, and to thank the voluntary donors for donating blood for the cause of humanity.
In our state, the SBTC in association with the Arunachal Pradesh State AIDS Control Society [APSACS], under the directorate of health services, observes the day with various activities every year, like blood donation camps and felicitating the donors. However, this year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, blood donation has been planned in a staggered manner and more donor motivation campaigns will be carried out through the electronic, print, and social media by adhering to social distancing norms.
Do join us in these media campaigns to motivate more donors, who have become even more relevant during this lockdown period amid the Covid-19 pandemic. (Tashor Pali is Deputy Director (IEC), SBTC & APSACS.)