In today’s times there is dear and misconception regarding blood donation which should be removed. Donating blood is a noble deed which can help the needy.
The first time I donated blood was on the day when Rakesh Sharma became the first Indian to go in space. Not that my blood donation had anything to do with space. It only helped me remember the date. I was in college and one of my friend’s relative who was admitted needed blood. As there was no blood available of the B group, I decided to donate.
The procedure was uneventful and after eating a plate of samosa and and 2 glucose biscuits ( which I don’t like) and drinking sweet tea, I went back to college feeling very noble. I was glad I could help. This was in the days when AIDS was yet to come in India and rules regarding blood donation and safety practices were not very strict.
My friend thanked me, though not in a filmy style you know “Tumhara ehsaan mein janambhar nahi bhooloongi”. I did not feel faint or dizzy. I passed the whole day without any problem though I tried to feel tired and thus remind my friends that I had donated blood. But in vain!!
It was the time when Voluntary blood donation was not very popular. And it was thought that relative’s blood should be preferably used. So, I was thoroughly scolded by my parents. Firstly because I had not asked them and secondly since I could not donate for at least 3 months, in case of emergency , I could not be of help.
After that I donated blood for 5-6 times. The last time was on 15 Aug 2010 in a camp. There were requests later once a while, but it was not possible for me to leave my work and go.
I was telling this story to a hall full of women. We had gathered to plan a grand function on occasion of Women’s day. As a part of the celebration we had planned a blood donation camp and as my friend who likes to argue with me against feminism rightly pointed out, only 3 people had volunteered, which out of 100 was a bit less.
“So I think I have the right to ask you, how many of you are willing to donate blood? We have only 3 names here out of which 2 are not eligible”
”Arey we are the ones who need blood. Look at us we are so weak. We are not eligible ”, a group of young women who considered themselves very modern and forward replied. As if being weak is a thing to be proud of!!!!
I am frightened of needles” said one “I faint at sight of blood “ added other.
“There is nothing to be afraid of needles or blood.” My friend who worked in a blood bank and who was helping me arrange the camp said. My friend first told about the importance of blood donation and said that there is a huge deficit in the demand and the supply. Hence Blood Banks had to depend on Voluntary donors. She told how people with various diseases needed blood and how much advanced techniques are available so that components of blood could be separated. “Remember how there were many people who had Dengue and their platelets count was less and they were given platelets. So we can take out only platelets from your blood and give back the rest. “
5 more women gave their names willingly. But the number was too less for the crowd.
“What is the eligibility criteria?” Someone requested
“ No No !! The better question would be when are we exempted from giving blood?” Another interrupted.
“Well if you are below 18 or above 65” There was a groan No one fitted there
“If your weight is below 50 Kg.“ Nearly 30 people sighed in relief
“Your haemoglobin is around 12 gm” Many more sighs
“ If you are pregnant, or have delivered a child or are breast feeding or had an abortion, there is a time limit” Few began to plan their pregnancies as soon as possible
“ If you are having periods, we prefer not to take blood. It is not a hard and fast criteria but we say no”. I could see half the audience calculating whether they would have their periods on 8th.
“ If you have donated blood within 3 months. You can donate blood every 3 months if everything is alright. I have known people who have donated blood more than 100 times”
“How is it possible” someone asked
“ See if you start from 18, you can donate blood till you are 65. Let us take till 60. So for 32 years you can donate blood 4 times a year i.e every 3 months and that comes to 128 times if everything is fine”
There was a silence as the audience tried to assimilate what she was saying.
“ It is a bit difficult for women”
“ Because every month you have periods, you become pregnant and then cannot donate for at least 1 year. If you have abortion you cannot donate for few months. And in addition if you undergo major surgery or if you have to take certain medicines then also you are not eligible. This is besides the fact that most of you have less haemoglobin and are underweight. ”
There was a thoughtful stillness in the hall.
“In our blood banks, majority donors are male. I thought that at least for Women’s day I would get a substantial number of females to donate blood. Whether you are eligible or not comes later. Here you are not even willing to volunteer. This is one place where the males have upper hand. We fail miserably. I only know of one group where all the donors are women. You all are from good families where I don’t think there is any problem in getting food and yet your haemoglobin is low and most of you are underweight.”
“Come. Give your name. Come to blood bank .I will give you a list of drugs and diseases which bar you from becoming a donor. Let us see if you are eligible or not. If not, we can see if we can make you eligible after some time, you know like increasing your haemoglobin, improving your health etc. And if still you are not eligible, you can at least volunteer to convince people to donate blood. If you cant donate blood, please donate time”
“How much blood is collected? “ someone asked
“We collect 350 ml of blood. Then before giving it to the patient it is tested for some diseases and if everything is fine then only blood is given to patient after cross matching”
“So it is not done as shown in Amar Akbar Anthony?”
“No.” she said amidst laughter. The mood lightened. She then answered many questions and so successful was her talk that 62 people volunteered and 34 were found eligible. So all in all it was a successful Women’s Day.
Image Source: Pexels
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