He is a passionate voluntary blood donor in Madurai. This 62-year-old blood donation campaigner has taken it up as a mission to such an extent that he organised a blood donation camp for his house-warming function at Pandikoil Road here three years ago and requested his guests not to bring any gifts for him but to donate one unit of blood.

There was a vehicle from Government Rajaji Hospital at the function venue and 35 units were collected.

Sharing this information to encourage public participation was V. M. Jose, secretary, Indian Red Cross Society’s Madurai district branch, who started donating blood from his 20th year of age and so far donated 153 times and most of that was done for the blood bank of Government Rajaji Hospital (GRH).

Examples like this may motivate the general public of Madurai to come forward voluntarily because the statistics of blood donation camps have shown that nearly 90 per cent of the blood donors were college students and others have not shown much interest to donate blood even though they know its importance.

Appeal for people’s active participation in voluntary blood donation comes from Prabha Samiraj, Medical Officer, GRH Blood Bank, who witnesses the demand for emergencies day in and day out.

“The impact of holidays during summer time is directly reflected on blood donation. We get constant supply from college students, but whenever there are long duration holidays, the shortage is felt. When the colleges are shut, the availability of blood is coming down,” she laments.

A ‘mobile blood bank’ is now pressed into service and it is being stationed regularly at Maatuthavani Bus Stand and in RTO offices in Madurai. The well-equipped blood collection vehicle costing about Rs.1.5 crore was allotted to the district by National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) and four persons can donate blood at a time. It is deputed under the supervision of GRH Blood Bank and also supported by the IRCS manpower.

“Now that the colleges are reopened, there will be improvement. But that should not be the case and hence we appeal to the people of 18 to 65 years of age to donate blood voluntarily,” says Mr. Jose.

The daily requirement of 2,200-bed GRH is 70 to 80 units of blood. Besides, there are many other hospitals which need blood on a daily basis for various surgeries and deliveries.

Another regular donor in Madurai and an expert in blood bank management, V. Velusamy, suggests that offices/residential apartments can think of conducting blood donation camps in their premises for special occasions and even the individuals can donate blood on their birthday or wedding day.

For the patients admitted in GRH, blood is given free of cost. Suppose if private hospitals or outside patients are in dire need, it is given at a Government-prescribed rate of Rs.850 per unit.

“Every open heart surgery requires eight units of blood and that too there should be fresh blood for that. It is time the public joins blood donation movement voluntarily and support other lives,” the GRH Blood Bank Medical Officer, feels.

Dr. Prabha Samiraj appeals that if a person comes to the GRH blood bank and donate blood, it directly reaches the poor and deserving patients. “These days, even a patient’s relatives try to get blood from other sources instead of themselves coming forward to donate for their own people. It is pathetic,” she expresses concern.

While a male can donate blood once in three months, a female can do it once in four months. Dr. Velusamy, who donated blood 97 times so far and is now a consultant in Vadamalayan Blood Bank, says that one unit of blood can be used for three patients and it is separated in to components- plasma, platelets and red blood cells.

For delivery cases, there will be substantial requirement of blood for tackling post-delivery bleeding. Besides, the accident cases, emergencies and cardiac/large area surgeries need blood. Particularly, the crisis is felt for negative groups such as ‘O’ negative and ‘AB’ negative.

While blood donation camps at various places and the college students’ contribution are able to supply the blood right now, the appeal to people of Madurai is to make sure that blood donors do not become a rare group. After taking stock of blood donation trend, it is now clear that it is time to have adequate stock of blood. There are storage facilities and blood can be stored for 35 days.

Those interested to go out and donate blood or organise camps in their locality can contact Dr.Prabha Samiraj of GRH at 94425-34647 or phone 0452-2520950. They can also contact Red Cross secretary Mr. Jose on 93626-28314.

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