Every year the World Health Organisation (WHO) celebrates World Blood Donor Day on June 14. The aim of the occasion is to raise global awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products for transfusion. Global health community comes together on this day to remind the general public about the critical contribution made by voluntary, unpaid blood donors to their respective health systems.
The importance of blood donation amidst the coronavirus pandemic once again highlights the importance of this essential service. Throughout the pandemic, despite limited mobility and other challenges, blood donors in many countries, especially India have continued to donate blood and plasma to patients who need transfusion.
However, last month the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Union health ministry removed the use of convalescent plasma for Covid-19 from its clinical management protocols after The Lancet published the results of the RECOVERY clinical trial. The medical journal mentioned that blood transfusions of plasma with a higher quantity of antibodies failed to improve the recipient’s chances of survival after 28 days.
However, at a time when healthcare infrastructure is overwhelmed with Covid cases, patients of other life-threatening medical conditions, like thalassemia, anaemia and blood malignancies need to receive this critical medical service. Blood shortage also affects women during childbirth as postpartum haemorrhage is one of the most common preventable causes of maternal death.
Hence, this year the WHO has released the slogan “Give blood and keep the world beating” for the occasion to highlight the extraordinary service rendered by the blood donors world over. This essential effort during a time of medical crisis highlights the crucial role of well-organized, committed voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors in ensuring a safe and sufficient blood supply during normal and emergency times.
It is quite understandable that many blood donors may be apprehensive in donating blood during the pandemic, but the global health community continues to reiterate how it is a noble deed that could save many lives.