Bengaluru: Blood banks fret as donor numbers fall | Bengaluru News – Times of India
Second infection wave and waiting period after vaccination have shrunk the pool of donors.
BENGALURU: The second wave of Covid-19 and the waiting period after vaccination have shrunk the pool of blood donors, especially from the 45-plus age group.
Blood banks, which have been facing supply woes since the pandemic began, are urging younger citizens to come forward.
An order issued by the National Blood Transfusion Council (NBTC) on March 5 had said that vaccine recipients cannot donate blood for 28 days after taking the second vaccine dose.
A person who takes Covishield will not be eligible to donate for nearly three months if they follow the eight-week gap between two doses. In the case of Covaxin, blood donation is not allowed for two months as the break between the doses is four weeks.
The new guidelines have prompted blood banks to ask willing donors to provide a self-declaration form on their vaccination status. Some have launched campaigns to sign up people aged between 18 and 45.
Lions Bloodline has posted messages on social media, asking people in the age group to volunteer before their turn for vaccination comes.
“By that time, hopefully, people aged over 45 will be eligible to give blood,” said Alphanso Kurian, a coordinator at Sanjay Nagar Lions Bloodline. Some regular donors who are 45 plus are volunteering before their vaccination date.
According to Dr Latha Jagannathan, the medical director and managing trustee of BMST, there are more volunteers in the age group of 18-45 than in 45-65. But blood donation has decreased drastically because of Covid-19. “In any case, we need people who are 18 to 45 years old to come forward to make up for the shortage,” Dr Latha said.
There are concerns that blood donation will fall further once vaccination is extended to everyone aged over 18. Dr Sumitra P, medical officer, Rashtrotthana Blood Bank, said that the situation might worsen in the coming months. “We will have to follow the NTBC order. The council may relook at its decision and we will have to see,” Dr Sumitra added.
Dr C Shivaram, who heads transfusion medicine at Manipal Hospitals, said that they were losing donors every day with many regulars taking the vaccine. “This is a concern, especially since colleges are closed,” he said.
The medical community has also raised objections to the NBTC order. “There is no clear cut evidence as to what happens if a vaccinated person gives blood. This requires a large study,” said Rajat Agarwal, co-founder, Sankalp India Foundation, a network of blood banks. Dr Shivaram echoed the view.
Dr Latha said that the American Association of Blood Banks had no deferral period for donation after vaccination. Many blood banks in Bengaluru are asking for replacement: for every unit of blood provided to the patient, a family member must contribute one.