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Blood Donations Need of the Hour as COVID Pandemic Brought Blood Donation Camps to Grinding Halt

The voluntary non remunerated blood donation camps and drives account for 80% national blood supply, COVID 19 pandemic brought the blood donation camps to grinding halt. India was already suffering from a huge shortage of 41 million units of blood in pre COVID times which was mainly used for pregnancy related complications, hematological disorders like Thalassemia, surgeries and cancer treatment. To complicate matters further nationwide lockdown, poor comprehension of nature of the disease, prolonged viremia, asymptomatic younger patients and shortage of logistics/consumable supplies all led to reduction of volunteers for blood donation.

As we are in the waning phase of COVID cycle coupled with intense vaccine drive and clearer government guidelines, it is time to get back to blood donation with all the safety precautions in place. There has not been any reported case of developing COVID 19 through a blood transfusion or via a blood donation procedure. Blood donation is the greatest act of kindness and at a time where the world is fearing one of the biggest health crisis, it is fundamental to donate blood and save lives of people in need.

Who can and cannot donate blood?

  • An individual should defer blood donation for 28 days post COVID recovery or discharge from a treating facility or 28 days after home isolation ends.
  • An individual should be deferred from donating blood for 28 days with the last possible close contact exposure to a person who is suspected/confirmed case of COVID-19 including those under quarantine
  • An individual should defer blood donation 14 days post vaccination according to national blood transfusion council
  • It is recommended that in-house blood donation as well as outdoor blood donation activities may be continued whole ensuring compliance with extant social distancing norms, infection control guidelines and biomedical waste disposal rules.
  • Hand hygiene and coughing etiquette must be maintained.
  • COVID testing is not mandatory before blood donation as transfusion associated COVID is very rare.

Better planning of blood donation camps during pandemic

  • Blood donation camps should not be stopped completely during pandemic but planned better
  • Maintenance of rare blood group registry
  • Rationalizing and prioritizing the usage of blood and blood product during pandemic to improve the reserve and prevent wastage
  • Ramping up in-house blood donation programs with all safety measures.

Article by
Dr. Akshith Thimmaiah,
Head of Laboratory Services & Head of Hospital Infection Control,
Dr Mehta’s Hospitals

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