A couple of days have just gone by, and as I sink into my chair in the Blood Centre, it dawns on me that it’s been a year and a half into the pandemic journey. The Posters and motivational messages on the display board of the Blood Centre I work in, still smell fresh from the celebrations of the ‘NATIONAL VOLUNTARY BLOOD DONATION DAY’ on the 1st of October, which was as anticipated was sober this year and the year that passed. COVID -19 has had major implications for the global healthcare sector, with blood transfusion services being no exception.
While at one corner the donors were hesitant with apprehensions of even visiting the blood centres, recipients were jittered with the thought of the virus being transmitted through the received blood.
The pandemic has brought in revolutionary changes in diagnostics, new chapters have been written in terms of medications, genetics, treatment protocols, vaccination to name a few. However, the fact that the need for human blood during the pandemic was there cannot be changed,it is there and will only continue to grow. Though hospitals witnessed a drop in the scheduled planned surgeries, the need for blood units persisted due to its therapeutic roles in trauma victims, anaemic, thalassemics and cancer management. The only life saving medicine that cannot be manufactured but can only be passed on from a generous donor to a patient in need is the human blood. The demand and supply chain was badly affected. While at one corner the donors were hesitant with apprehensions of even visiting the blood centres, recipients were jittered with the thought of the virus being transmitted through the received blood. To add on was the constraint of conducting voluntary blood donation camps, restrictions on travel which further affected the workforce. These, along with other factors made it challenging to pile up blood stock and suffice the blood demands of the patients in need.
As a team working in a Blood Centre affiliated to a tertiary care hospital, that caters to a vast rural population, we took the responsibility of motivating all potential healthy donors in and around our campus. What came as a surprise was that a few key facts needed to be cleared which were engraved in their minds, especially regarding COVID-19 and Blood Donation. A snippet of the same has been given below with the hope that voluntary blood donation can be boosted up.
If you are a donor who wants to donate blood……
Blood donation during Covid is absolutely safe. All good Blood Centres practice stringent protocols of safety and donor screening. Spacing and repeated cleaning of donor stations, sanitizing places of potential contamination, wearing protective masks compulsorily and following biomedical waste disposal as per regulatory bodies are being followed. Also voluntary donor appointments are fixed by allotting time slots to avoid crowding at Blood Centres.
Vaccination and Covid……
The Notification from the Government of India has now declared that one can donate after 14 days of receiving any/each dose of currently available Covid vaccine, provided that the donor clears all the criteria for other norms of Blood donation. So, after two weeks past a vaccination one can be an eligible donor!
If at any point time one was hospitalized for Covid the proposed deferral period is 3 months from hospital discharge. Published studies and literature till date have shown that respiratory viruses like the SARS CoV2 cannot be transmitted by donation or transfusion.
What if you have got infected with Covid ………
According to the guidelines in India, a person can donate after 28 days of full recovery and without any further symptoms. If at any point time one was hospitalized for Covid the proposed deferral period is 3 months from hospital discharge. Published studies and literature till date have shown that respiratory viruses like the SARS CoV2 cannot be transmitted by donation or transfusion. So either as a donor or recipient you are safe!
Social media and healthcare related websites have been playing a crucial role in the dissemination of facts and myths pertaining to Blood donation ever since the Pandemic was declared. However it is recommended to follow credible websites and to directly speak to your doctor for any clarifications.
The above was a bird’s eye view of the need and clarifications regarding blood donation and Covid. I will consider my little effort worthwhile , after going through the above matter the little angel in your mind shouts out to you ‘ It’s time to be a hero and save lives, it’s time to donate blood and the time is NOW’
Composed by: “Dr.Archana Shetty, is currently working as a Blood Transfusion Officer and Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology at CDSIMER under the aegis of Dayananda Sagar University. With a teaching and diagnostic experience of over 12 years she is actively involved in blood transfusion services at the hospital.”