By Our Correspondent | Opening Doorz Editorial | July 22, 2020

One of the major fallouts of Covid-19 is in the area of blood donation. Blood Donation Drives have been cancelled, and there is a drastic reduction in the numbers of persons going to the blood centres. As a result, blood centres in the city are faced with a serious shortage of blood. This shortage is posing a risk to the lives of almost 900 patients, who are in need of blood transfusions for various medical conditions, in Mumbai, every day.

Blood is the need of the hour…

Blood is needed NOW. These are extraordinary times, which test the character of society at large. It is necessary for all of us to put our hands up and rise to the occasion. Some lives cannot be considered more important than others. Whilst we take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we cannot forget that innumerable patients with other medical conditions may lose their lives due to non-availability of blood.

Opening Doorz spoke with Think Foundation about their Blood Donation drives across the city and the need for Societies to support this cause. “These are extraordinary times which test the character of society. It is necessary for all of us to put our hands up, and make a difference,” says Vinay Shetty from Think Foundation, who conducted his first blood donation drive at the age of 20, some 35 years ago!

“It is easily possible to organize a micro blood donation drive in the premises of your Society. All guidelines issued by the government with respect to safety will be followed by the blood bank. Residents, who are healthy and meet the eligibility criteria, can maintain social distancing norms, come in turns, donate blood, and go back to their homes. In fact, it is safer to donate blood in the society premises than to go to a grocery store or a local chemist,” reveals Shetty.

Here, he answers in detail every query relating to Blood Donation in these present pandemic conditions.


Why is it necessary to donate blood?

Though Covid-19 patients are very unlikely to need blood, there are a large number of patients with various other medical conditions who need blood components as a matter of life and death. In fact in Mumbai almost 900 patients need blood transfusions every day. Their lives are at risk if there is no blood in blood banks.

Can one not donate blood sometime, after the lockdown?

For you, there can be some other time. But for the patients who need blood, there may be no second time. They may lose their lives. In fact, it is more necessary to donate blood now than at any other time.

An Appeal to Housing Societies
These are extraordinary times which test the character of the Society at large.

Is it safe to donate blood during this present period?

The venue of blood donation will be kept clean and sanitized. A visit to the venue will be safer than going to a grocery store or the local chemist. Follow the same rules that you employ every time you step out from your house. Practice hand hygiene, wear a mask, maintain social distancing norms from persons other than the medical staff attending to you at each stage.

Are the employees of the Blood Bank trained in the present context of Covid-19?

Employees  of the Blood Bank rigidly follow safety protocols, including wearing gloves/masks/aprons, disinfecting donor-touched areas, using sterile collection sets for every donation, and preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub. Safe distances will be maintained by them between the various stages in the process of blood donation. They will also ensure safe distance between any 2 donors. The blood bank staff is, in any case, trained in universal precautions to prevent the spread of any infection.

Will the person donating blood be subjected to a Covid Test before donation?

No, there will not be any Covid test before blood donation. Only healthy persons are expected to come for blood donation. Anybody having fever, cold or cough will be told to desist from donating blood. If anybody turns up with any such symptom, he/she will be stopped at the entry point.

Will the blood bank check the donor for eligibility to donate blood?

Blood is collected only from people who are healthy and feeling well at the time of the donation, and who meet other eligibility requirements. The Blood Bank will check your haemoglobin, blood pressure, pulse, temperature; and ask questions about your medical history. In addition to the normal screening measures, you will be asked questions about your travel and contact history.

Will the donor have to wear a mask?

Yes. All staff and donors must wear face coverings in accordance with requirements of the current pandemic situation.

What if the donor is an asymptomatic carrier of Covid-19?

The novel Corona Virus which causes Covid-19 is a respiratory virus. All available medical knowledge suggests that respiratory viruses are not blood transmissible. The recipient of such blood is expected to be safe. However, if a donor learns that he/she is Covid positive, the Blood Bank should be informed.

Will the donor be able to fight an infection later?

There is no research evidence that donating blood affects your ability to fighting infection later. Abundant quantity of white blood cells, which fight infections, remain in the blood stream after donation. Furthermore, donated cells are regenerated rapidly post-donation.

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