You get an emergency text message late in the night, seeking help in getting a specific blood group. You start wondering how you can be of help.
Do you know, Namma Bengaluru has many resources where you have ready blood of all groups? You can also check where exactly it is available, and seek help, or forward it to the concerned person who might be busy battling the emergency situation. Here is a guide for you.
Where can I find blood?
The Karnataka State Drug Control Department maintains an online public portal which provides details of blood types available in blood banks and hospitals across Karnataka. The website also gives details such as quantity, location where it is available and the contact information. The website is updated daily.
Karnataka Aids Prevention Society in association with Government of Karnataka has introduced a Blood Bank Management Info System. Here, you can place request for blood, register yourself as a donor or search for a blood bank.
One can also call Sankalp India Foundation on 94800 44444 for blood availability information in all the major and safe blood banks in Karnataka. In case of unavailability, the Sankalp Emergency number can be called at 98801 32850. There are also many other NGOs, like Rashtrothana Parishad, that have blood banks.
Social media too can be of help. There are online platforms like Blood Donors India , Blood Aid and I Can Save Life that match the blood donors with the needy. A simple tweet with the requirement can connect you with donors.
Why is there a demand for blood?
Blood is never wasted in a blood bank. If the bag is collected as a 350 ml unit, it remains packaged as whole blood. Else it is separated into 3 components – packed cells, platelets, plasma. Whole blood lasts for 30 to 35 days, packed cells expire in 30 days and platelets in 5 days. Plasma, when preserved well with anticoagulants, can last even up to a year.
There is always a demand for blood, in its whole form or as one of its components, and it is required for various reasons.
Major surgeries – heart surgeries, deliveries, fire injuries
Dengue (Bangalore apparently faced a shortage of platelets as a result of this in the past couple of months, since platelets have a short shelf life. To combat this, camps were set up only to collect platelets)
For Thalassemia patients (disorder caused by weakening and destruction of red blood cells)
For Haemophilia patients (genetic disorder that impairs the body’s ability to control blood clotting)
How does supply and demand for blood play out?
While the Karnataka Red Cross Society vouches that there is sufficient supply of blood, Sankalp says that there is no dearth of calls on their emergency helpline – on an average they receive about 40 to 50 calls a day.
Dr. Rajasekharappa, Blood Bank Medical Officer, Karnataka Red Cross Society admits to not having any deficiency of blood supply in Bangalore. He however adds, “It is always good to have blood stocked in shelves. For instance, blood banks provides blood to Thalassemic children free of cost. Therefore, there is always need of blood.”
With respect to blood camps, Rajasekharappa remarks that blood camps help accumulate blood in huge quantities and therefore colleges and corporate offices are chosen as venues to encourage maximum participation.
Dr Yateesh Govindaiah, Medical Superintendent, Apollo Hospital, Bannerghatta adds, “Blood camps are set up in institutions not because they need publicity, but because there is a requirement for blood on the shelves and a massive number of people participate. Blood banks are created with an aim to meet demand for blood at any time of the day.”
What happens in the case of rare blood types?
Rajat Aggarwal, a senior volunteer at Sankalp India Foundation shares, “An emergency can come anytime of the day. Accident happens every single minute. At such occasions it becomes difficult to hunt for the rare blood group donor late in the night. The perception that I am from the rare blood group and therefore should not donate blood, should be eradicated”
All negative blood groups are classified as rare groups. According to Ankita, another senior volunteer at Sankalp Foundation, 15% of people have negative blood groups. When all possible avenues have been explored and there is still a need for blood, the Sankalp Emergency Wing (98801 32850) comes into play as the last ray of hope. The team reaches out to registered donors to come forward and donate.
The Bombay Blood group is the rarest blood group. It occurs in 1 in 17000 cases. Considering its rarity and the limited shelf life of whole blood, people belonging to this group are asked not to donate. Instead they are asked to register as donors (http://www.bombaybloodgroup.org/) and will be contacted in case there is a need for it.
Why should I donate blood?
Apart from the philanthropic angle, blood donation has a number of personal benefits too.
It helps in the generation of new blood cells which in turn refreshes the body.
Donating 450 ml of blood burns 650 calories. However, this does not mean one can donate every other week. Men can donate once in three months, while women can do so once in four months.
Regular blood donation, especially for males is said to reduce the risk of heart disease.
It helps keep a check on iron levels in the body. An increase in the level of iron in your blood could lead to heart disease or increase the chances of heart attack.
Every donor is subject to a mini medical test prior to donation – HB level test, blood pressure and body weight are checked.
Post donation as well, the blood is tested for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV, Syphilis and Malaria. The donor is immediately informed in case the test is positive. While this is not a benefit, it acts as a precautionary measure.
What should I look out for when I go to donate blood?
Ensure that the place where you are going to donate blood is hygienic and clean.
Avoid poorly ventilated or claustrophobic rooms.
It will be good if the room is well-ventilated with either an AC or fan.
Insist on a new syringe. While most doctors will take care, you can never be too sure.
Drinking water and a wash room should be easily accessible.
For more information on blood donation, read: Blood Donation FAQ
How much does blood cost?
The recipient of the blood is charged, for the testing, while the blood is supposed to be free. A donor cannot sell blood, as it is illegal. A unit of blood can cost anywhere between Rs. 300 (subsidised rates at government hospitals) to Rs.2000 (at private hospitals where NAC test is done). This varies from hospital to hospital; Karnataka Red Cross Society charges Rs. 600, while one unit costs Rs.770 at Wockhardt Hospital.
BPL (below poverty line) patients are usually given blood at a subsidised rates from government blood banks and hospitals; sometimes even free of cost. Blood that is meant for Thalassemic children is not charged. The cost for other components of blood like platelets varies and typically costs more than one unit of blood.
Information is power. Help save another life today, armed with timely and accurate information.