India has a shortage of about 2 million units of blood annually. The demand-supply gap has fallen over the years due to the efforts of various organizations such as Rotary Blood Bank, Red Cross, Bloodconnect among many others. In 2006-07 the number of blood units annually collected used to be around four and a half million. Now it has doubled. Clearly, awareness has increased.
One can donate blood because of the miraculous stem cells present in our bone marrow. They can make up for the donated blood by volume (plasma) within 48 hours as well as the cells are back within the next two months. A healthy adult man can donate once in three months and a healthy adult woman is advised to donate once every four months.
The benefits of blood donation are that your blood gets tested for haemoglobin as well as several other diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis, among others. For example, many Indian women have low haemoglobin levels and they can substitute their diet accordingly. Although, the study that donating blood is good for our hearts is debatable.
The donated blood components are separated into Red blood cells, plasma, and platelets and thus can be donated to three different persons according to the requirement. Most of the blood banks have this facility but more needs to be done to modernize our blood banks. Donated blood has a shelf life and requires a properly sealed package and well-moderated storage conditions. According to an estimate, half a million of blood collected gets wasted due to improper storage conditions or shorter shelf life. Therefore, better than mega blood donation camps we need to organize smaller camps at regular intervals.
The antigens and antibodies determine a blood type. For example blood group A has antigen A present on the surface of RBCs and anti-B antibodies present within the plasma. The positive or negative denotes the presence or absence of an additional RhD antigen respectively.
A rare blood group called the Bombay blood group can donate RBCs to any of ABO blood groups but cannot receive blood from any of them due to the absence of an H antigen.
Thalassemia is a genetic disorder in which people have a decreased amount of RBC and haemoglobin production. People suffering from this disease often require a blood transfusion. Sickle cell anemia is another such disorder in which RBCs are sickle-shaped or abnormal. Bone marrow transplants can be a cure for them as they contain miraculous stem cells.
At IIT(ISM) Dhanbad, there is an organization ‘Fast Forward India’ and ‘Bloodline’ that conducts regular blood donations. The organization maintains a blood group database of all the students and its volunteers and as and when emergency cases come in or around the regions of Dhanbad, people approach them and get connected with a voluntary donor. Many of its student volunteers are involved in such a manner. One of the aspects is that many people are not able to donate blood because they consume some weed or drugs. There is a lot of chemistry involved in what makes people resort to such addictive things. It’s an altogether different issue and needs to be tackled through a strong will.
People can be multiple times blood donors. During one of our training sessions in college, I interacted with people who were closely related to this field, had donated blood more than fifty times, and were perfectly healthy. It’s all due to the presence of miraculous stem cells present in our bone marrow.
Recently, we have seen how convalescent plasma therapy has proven beneficial for COVID-19 patients. The fact that blood can be regenerated within our body with the help of miraculous stem cells present in our bone marrow looks amazing and we need to explore this miracle of science. Stem Cells are a whole new cutting-edge field of research about which I think our Indian education system should make students aware of by making it a part of the school curriculum.