The Kerala State AIDS Control Society (KSACS) along with HLL Lifecare Ltd. and National Service Scheme (NSS) Unit of the Government College for Women, held a voluntary blood donation camp for the staff and students of the college here.
Around 100 students and staff from the various departments of the college donated blood. This is the second consecutive year for which the college has held the camp. Girls of age groups 18 to 23 participated in the camp and blood transfusions were received from the medically-fit ones.
Kavitha, a first year Bsc student, said: “ This is the first time I am donating blood. It feels really good to have been of use to this cause.” On the other hand, Madhavi and Thejaswini, second year BA students who could not donate their blood due to not meeting the requirements, were ‘sad and feeling blue’, and hung around with many others in the same situation helping out the volunteers. Niliya, an NSS volunteer, finds the response from the students to the campaigning ‘very good’, compared to the previous year.
Rajagopalan, a voluntary blood donor since 1973 (97 transfusions so far), gave a session on blood donation to the assembled students. Popular actress Mallika Sukumaran visited the college to encourage the students and promote the cause.
Around 10 medical officers and supporting staff from the Medical College, RCC, etc. came to carry out the blood transfusion. One of the KSACS Voluntary Blood Donation Consultants, Dr M Suresh Kumar, spoke on the current blood donation scenario in Kerala. According to him, what we need is more public awareness and participation. “People are scared. They don’t know where to go for blood in emergencies. Often they seek help from unauthorised persons who manipulate them and bring in the “professional” blood donors who put up their own conditions. What we need is non-remunerative, altruist, voluntary blood donation—the KSACS’s motto. Owing to the extensive camps that we have held around the city, the blood bank in Trivandrum is now full, but for a few rare blood groups.”
The blood banks are government approved and provide blood to the public, provided there is a medical practitioner’s reference and complies to their conditions. Blood banks provide free service to the BPL category and patients suffering from diseases like Thalassemia, haemophilia and so on, where frequent blood transfusions are required. Reasonable charges, as issued by the government, are charged from the public. Government blood banks are open at the Medical College, General Hospital, Women and Child Hospital (Thycaud), Regional Cancer Centre (Medical College) and Sree Chitira Thirunal Medical Institute (Medical College).
Dr K Chandramohan, deputy director STI at KSACS, points out how blood donation rates are lesser among the women in Kerala in spite of having a favourable sex ratio. “Women are a safer source for blood transfusion with very few cases of blood rejection, when compared to men, who often come under the ‘risky’ category when it comes to STDs.”
Men can donate blood once in three months, while it is healthy if done once in four months for women. However, the donor rejection rates are higher in women, owing to factors like malnutrition, anaemia, etc.
The KSACS has gone around the various colleges in the city including All Saints’, NSS College for Women and for the first time held a camp at the Secretariat, where they got around 165 donors, as a part of promoting voluntary blood donation among government officials.
Red ribbon clubs that provide training in life skills and awareness regarding blood donation and safety have also begun functioning in schools and colleges under KSACS.
Dr Chitra James, a postgraduate student in Transfusion Medicine at the Medical College, feels girl donors are rather too apprehensive and fall behind thinking themselves the “weaker” sex—a completely wrong attitude. “Young girls are very much healthy and their blood has higher regenerating capacities. All they need to focus is on maintaining the right diet and be aware of their limitations (like body weight) when it comes to blood donation.”
Baby Prabhakaran, the state manager of HLL Lifecare, said that more of such camps will be organised around the state and plans to set up district wise forums for efficient capaigning and organisations will be implemented soon.
The KSACS is a society registered under the the state government’s department of health and family, along with the National Welfare Board and NACO.