By Dr. Shweta Nayak
Just like any other branch of healthcare, blood donations are affected during the pandemic. Though elective procedures could be postponed but there were patients who were transfusion-dependent like patients who suffered from cancer, hemoglobinopathies or those who required blood in emergencies like trauma or bleeding during childbirth, for whom blood was inevitable. But thankfully, we are tiding over the situation now. Blood is a lifesaving drug that comes from benevolent donors.
It was primarily the fear among the blood donors to go to hospitals for blood donation or getting in contact with the healthcare professionals which was the biggest hurdle. Initially, there were travel restrictions not just inter-cities but also within, which affected the communication of donors. Blood centres had to issue passes to suitable donors so that they could come to the venue without hindrances.
Colleges and offices which are the preferred sites of blood donation camps were shut down as learning and working continued online. Outdoor blood donation camps are reduced to avoid gatherings. Blood centres managed with a limited number of camps with abidance to the COVID-19 protocols. The healthcare personnel was also contracting the disease. Some COVID warriors lost their lives in the pandemic to which the transfusion fraternity was no exception.
Managing the crisis with a limited number of staff was another challenge. The National Blood Transfusion Council (NBTC) had advised a deferral period of 28 days post-recovery of COVID-19 and a gap of 14 days after COVID-19 vaccination. Both the gaps are justified but they accounted to increased number of donor deferrals in the last two years. As we head towards a new normal, NBTC should re-consider the deferral periods.
A sense of responsibility for society in the form of blood donation is limited to a handful number of individuals. Lack of awareness programs and mass communication on the significance of blood donation in the near past are the predominant reasons. The worst impact of this gap got highlighted during the pandemic, particularly when it was at its peak. Only generous donors managed the supply of this resource ‘blood’ which cannot be manufactured. It was the altruistic act of our blood donors which saved hundreds of lives.
(The author is Consultant Blood Transfusion, Fortis Hospital Vasant Kunj. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of FinancialExpress.com.)