Giving Blood & Sweat: Corona warriors set up blood donation camp

At a time when the entire country is battling the novel coronavirus, the healthcare workers at the forefront of the war against the pandemic are not only facing the challenges in saving human lives, but are also donating blood for the needy, as blood donation has dried up during the lockdown.

The doctors, nurses and technicians of Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) have been organising blood donation camps and are donating blood more frequently than ever amid the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. On Sunday, May 31, this will be the 9th blood donation camp during the pandemic.

The camp will be organised by the doctors, partnering with some NGOs. One such organisation is National Medicos Organisation which has organised eight blood donation camps in the last two months in Delhi with 629 donations under “Rakta-Dhara” Abhiyan.

All camps were held in large halls with adequate distancing, hand hygiene and sanitization measures. Healthcare workers used proper PPEs in these camps. Four of these camps were in association with AIIMS blood bank, while one each with RML hospital, GTB hospital, Hindu Rao and Swami Dayanand hospital.

Saksham, another NGO which collaborated with the technicians, has organised at least 17 blood donation camps during the lockdown.

Speaking to IANS, Dr Amit Malviya, Senior Resident at the AIIMS and Blood donation drive coordinator said, “Our upcoming blood donation camp is on May 31, at armed forces transfusion centre (AFTC) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. I want to appeal to all voluntary donors residing nearby to come up for blood donation for our army jawans and their family members.”

He also said that all the donors should wear proper masks and follow distancing and hand hygiene while visiting the camp or blood bank for the donation.

Emphasizing on the significance of the blood donation amid a pandemic, the doctor said, “Due to lockdown many regular voluntary donors and relatives of patients have been facing difficulties to reach the blood banks for donations. Apart from it, some degree of fear of COVID in public may have reduced motivation of voluntary donors in reaching the hospitals. Therefore, it becomes even more important for everyone including the healthcare workers to donate blood.”

He also said that the hospitals, besides managing the pandemic, are also performing several emergency surgeries, cancer surgeries and surgeries of patients suffering road traffic accident and trauma cases. All these surgeries require transfusion of blood and blood products. Also patients of Thalassemia, Aplastic Anemia, other Hematological disorders, blood cancers regularly require blood transfusion.

There are many myths about the blood donation due to the pandemic in the country. People think whether they should visit or avoid visiting blood banks or donation camps fearing contracting the disease.

To this, Malviya said, “Blood banks and blood donation facilities are usually located in a different block or wing of the hospital. The staff and doctors working in the blood bank are not the ones working in COVID wards. Donation rooms are sanitized at regular intervals and after each donation.”

He also added that blood donation camps during pandemic follow strict distancing protocols.

“Camps are usually held in large halls like auditoriums, schools, resorts with adequate distancing between donation beds. Doctors and health-care workers use appropriate N95 masks, gowns and face shields as PPEs. All donors also wear masks and are provided with hand sanitizers. Therefore there is nothing to fear.”

The doctor said that COVID-19 screening of donors is done prior to donation. This includes thermal scanning, history of contact with known positives, travel to certain countries, residence in hotspots, 4 to 6 weeks fever or COVID symptoms free interval.

Dr Ila Varsi, Consultant in the Neurology at AIIMS, told IANS that she is a regular donor, just like most doctors at the AIIMS. She said that at least 5 to 8 doctors are voluntarily donating blood every day.

“Doctors and healthcare workers donate blood regularly or whenever required, as we are the immediate donor pool available in the hospital setup. I donate blood every third month and plan to donate next in the blood donation camp organized by the National Medicos Organization on May 31 at Army blood bank.

A Nursing Officer Kanishk Yadav at the AIIMS told IANS that the nursing officers at AIIMS are regular donors and continue to do so in pandemic too.

“We had organized a blood donation camp in AIIMS on International Nurses day on May 12. Few nursing officers at AIIMS started a blood donation camp initiative 2 years ago under the banner of Rajasthani Mitra mandal (RMM) which have organized eighteen camps in two years and two camps during lockdown,” said Yadav.