Concerned over the low rate of voluntary blood donation in the state, the Kerala State Blood Transfusion Council (KSBTC) is launching a massive drive to create awareness among people on the occasion of World Blood Donor Day June 14.
Speaking to IANS, Ganesh M. Pillai, quality manager of the council, said that last year the total blood that was received at the various blood banks touched four lakh units, which is a new record, but yet not sufficient.
One unit of blood is 350 ml.
'In the state, blood is received either through voluntary blood donation camps, from people after seeing appeals in newspapers or from close relatives or friends of those requiring blood. The best practice that should happen is voluntary blood donation and in the state this is just around 10 percent. This figure has to go up,' Pillai said.
Kerala has 158 blood banks, of which 32 are government-run, seven are in the cooperative sector and 14 supported by the state government. The remaining are in the private sector.
'We just receive 10 percent of the total blood requirement in the state through voluntary blood donation. This has to change because precious lives can be saved if we can store blood and give it to the needy as and when required. We are targeting 10,000 units of blood through these camps in the state this month,' Pillai said.
According to P.S. Baby, an official of the All Kerala Blood Donors Society, a person aged above 18 years and below 60 can donate blood quarterly.
The only bar is that those who give blood should not have received blood that year, should not have taken anti-rabies injection and should not have undergone a major surgery.
'We have now begun a massive drive to spread the message of voluntary blood donation among college students. We have formed a club called 'Club 25' and all those aged between 18 and 25 years, who donate blood 25 times, can become members of the club.
'It's nothing special if you become a member of Club 25 but through this we wish to spread the message that you would have saved the lives of 25 people. Is that not enough?' asked Baby, who works with one of the leading blood bag manufacturers in the country.
Currently, blood is given free to all those who fall in the below poverty line (BPL) category while Rs.250 (per unit blood) is charged from those at the state-run medical colleges and hospitals. In private hospitals, it costs as high as Rs.2,000.
'There is a huge cost involved in the collection, testing and storage of blood. A blood bag costs Rs.250; the mandatory five tests to check the quality of blood costs Rs.1,000, while cross-matching costs another Rs.250. In all, it costs Rs.1,500 for 350 ml of blood,' said an official, who did not wish to be identified.
The KSBTC is launching a massive voluntary blood donation camp Monday to promote voluntary blood donation in the home district of Health Minister P.K. Sreemathi at Kannur.
Tested blood can be stored safely for a period of 45 days, while blood components like plasma have a shelf life of one year.
'We are trying to rope in a film star to be the brand ambassador for voluntary blood donation. The message that blood donation not only saves life but also purifies one's own blood and is good for the donor has to be spread. Our target is the youth,' Baby said.
The global theme for World Blood Donor Day, 2010, is 'New blood for the world'.