As another National Blood Donation Day is observed on October 1, blood transfusion remains a totally risky affair. Many people in the state have been infected with HIV and Hepatitis B&C following blood transfusions, exposing flaws in the present system and even questioning the point of blood donation.
Except the IMA blood bank at Ernakulam, no blood bank in the state has facilities to detect HIV or Hepatitis virus in the donor’s blood during the window period (when viruses remain in blood and cannot be detected through blood tests).
For HIV, the window period is six months and for hepatitis virus, 35 days. If a person donates blood during this period, viruses will be transmitted to the recipient. Nucleic Acid Test (NAT) is the only test that can detect virus in blood during the window period.
Among the several people who were infected with viruses through unsafe blood transfusions are: Rasiya and her son (Hepatitis-B), Hasnath (Hepatitis- C), Nibin Nihal (HIV), all from Wayanad, Shahina (Hepatitis-B) of Koduvally and Sreejith (Hepatitis-C) of Koyilandy. When contacted, P Hariprasad, Drugs Controller and Licensing Authority of the Drugs Control Department, admitted that it was high time facilities to conduct NAT were set up in all blood banks.
“However, the Drugs and Cosmetic Act-2008 that we are following does not make it mandatory for blood banks to introduce NAT facilities. All we can do now is to inform the Central Drugs Controller about the issue,” he said. The official added that it was not possible to introduce a separate rule for the state.
Dr V P Sasidharan, head of the Immuno Haematology and Blood Bank Department at the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital, points out cost of the NAT machinery as a major problem.
“The machinery costs Rs 3 to 4 crore and a test will cost Rs 1,500,” he said.
“Counselling the donors is the best available solution to the issue and we have been doing it. The process helps to categorise donors as risk group and non-risk group by taking into account their past lives and backgrounds. And we can prevent those coming under the risk group from donating blood.”
App to Find Donors
Putting an end to the worries of finding similar blood donors during emergencies, a youth from Perambra, Vinil Chandran, 24, has developed an android app ‘My blood for you’ to locate donors in your vicinity in a fraction of a second. This application will be open for the public from today- National Blood Donation Day. One has to provide name, place, blood group, contact number and other necessary details to register as a donor via the application.
These details will not be disclosed to everyone, but only to those who are genuine. People who are in need of blood just need to open the application and type the blood group and in fraction of seconds you will have the list of people with same blood group willing to donate. Once you select a donor from the list the next step is signing up with more details of you and your need to access the contact details.
Option is also available to find a donor very close to your location. It is a location based software and is easily accessible from any part of the world. This application can be downloaded from the Google Play store or www.mybloodforyou.com.