Director-General’s Message on World Blood Donor Day, 14 June 2016
Six-month-old Babu’s life was in danger. To correct a cardiac malfunction he was admitted to a hospital, in Hyderabad. But there was a hitch. Non-availability of blood that matched his group. Babu’s blood group – Bombay Blood Group (negative) is one of the rarest. This very rare phenotype is generally present in about 0.0004% (about 4 per million) of the human population, though in some places such as Mumbai (formerly Bombay) locals can have occurrences in as much as 0.01% (1 in 10,000) of inhabitants. After four days of frantic search, Think Foundation managed to procure 3 units of blood from three Mumbaikars who flew to Hyderabad. And, Babu’s life was saved…
There may be scores of people needing blood who are not as fortunate as Babu. One unit of blood is required every second in India. The Indian population of 1 billion-plus people require 9.5 millions units of blood per year. But, only 5.5 million units are available leading to 40 per cent shortage. And, the need of blood will increase by 5 per cent each year, according to estimates.
Water and Blood is the lifeline for people. Only their colours differ. All the riches of the world put together cannot equal the value of just a drop of water or blood. Safe blood save lives, unsafe blood imperils them. Millions of lives are saved across the world through timely blood transfusion just like Babu’s.
The need of the hour is to educate people about the value and sanctity of blood donation. It is a supreme act of benevolence. They should be motivated to part with a few drops of their blood, occasionally. Voluntary donors are the cornerstones of safe and sufficient blood. Transfusion of blood and blood products not only save lives but also helps patients suffering from life-threatening conditions to live longer and with a life of quality, Like Babu!
Every year, on 14th June, World Blood Donor Day is commemorated across the world. The day happens to be the birth anniversary of Karl Landsteiner who won Nobel Prize in 1930 for his discovery of Blood Groups. This year’s theme is “Blood connects us all”. It highlights the dimension of ‘sharing’ between donors and patients. The campaign with the slogan ‘share life, give blood’ aims to feature stories of people like that of Babu whose life has been saved through timely blood donation, to motivate regular blood donors to continue giving blood and motivate healthy people who have never parted with the blood even once, particularly young people. The World Blood Donor Day serves to inspire people for making life saving gifts of blood.
The Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI), in association with the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) India & Christian Medical Association of India (CMAI), is implementing a national-level project titled “Quality Management System of Blood Banks (QMSBB).” The project works closely with the division of Blood Transfusion Services (BTS) & National AIDS Control Organization (NACO)/State AIDS Control Societies (SACS), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of 16 States and 3 Union Territories. The goal is to strengthen and support the quality management systems in blood banks to ensure access to safe and quality blood in remote areas in the shortest time possible.
In this Year of Mercy, let us take a solemn promise to donate blood that can save lives. Giving the ‘gift of blood’ is an act of love and compassion.
Rev Dr Mathew Abraham, C.Ss.R, MD