Inaugurating the upgraded Model Blood Bank of the Indian Red Cross Society here on Monday, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad exhorted young people to turn voluntary blood donors, thereby ensuring the safety and sufficiency of the nation's blood supply.

The occasion also coincided with World Blood Donor Day and the Minister, who is also the chairman of IRCS, honoured eight centurion blood donors and two partner organisations that help the Society in blood collection.

Mr. Azad said blood donation campaigns should focus on recruiting and retaining young donors for repeated non-remunerative donations. “Young people unable to donate for any reason can volunteer as advocates for voluntary donation,” he said.

Mr. Azad noted that blood donation brings about harmony in society as recipients accept blood without interest in the sex, caste, economic status and religion of the donor.

The Minister praised the facilities at the upgraded Model Blood Bank.

IRCS secretary-general S. P. Agarwal said the Society collects 85 per cent blood from voluntary donors and can soon achieve 100 per cent voluntary blood donation because it is procuring a mobile blood collection van.

“Latest equipments such as automatic elisa and serology processor, a cold-room to store 2,000 units of whole blood at 4 degree Celsius, storage of 5,000 units of frozen plasma at -40 degrees, equipments for component separation are being installed,” he said.

Dr. Agarwal said the Blood Bank has also started refresher and training courses for the staff and would impart training to others in blood transfusion services.

National Aids Control Organisation Director-General K. Chandramauli handed over a blood transportation van to IRCS on behalf of NACO.