On World Blood Donor Day, today, we talk to a few regular voluntary blood donors across the State, who have made a habit of saving lives
I did my graduation at Punjab and during my internships, I used to attend to a lot of trauma patients who did not have any immediate relatives. My blood type is O+ and I have donated blood more than five times to the patients. When you see their smile, it's priceless and you get a lot of satisfaction as a doctor too. Currently, there's a rising requirement for blood, especially for those suffering from viral diseases such as dengue and chikungunya. These patients need blood platelets to combat the disease and sustain life.
I have a rare blood type, O-. I have donated around 25 times - to pregnant women as well as critical patients. I first gave blood to an emergency accident victim. After the donation, I went to see the patient. I was moved when his family thanked me for the deed that saved his life in time. Financially, I am not that stable but that moment when I received the gratitude straight from their hearts, I felt like the wealthiest person in the world. From then on, I donate blood whenever possible. The norm is that people can give blood once every three months. But I took a risk once by donating right after a month. When I saw an ailing patient and his pleading family, I couldn't ignore them and went ahead, neglecting my health. I can't support a needy person financially, but I can donate blood and save life.
The blood donation drives at my office spurred me on to become a donor. I was rejected the first time due to dental issues. The second time the needle freaked me out but the blood collection went smoothly. Later, I went to donate blood at Regional Cancer Centre, Trivandrum, and have been a regular donor since then. It is still difficult to find matching donors. Most of the female donors are rejected as they don't have recommended Haemoglobin (Hb) levels to donate blood. So, I now take extra care to follow a healthy diet so that I could donate blood every four months. Women who wish to donate blood must include more green leafy vegetables like drumsticks leaves, spinach, pomegranate, beetroot, jaggery and peanuts in their daily diet maintain the required Hb level. Donating blood also keeps us young. You lose approximately 650 calories when you donate one pint of blood.
I have been a regular donor since 18 and last year, I donated for the 100th time. My first time was 30 years ago. I had only read in books about the different blood types and donation. There were so many misconceptions back then about giving blood to another person - that you would contract diseases etc. I didn't sleep the night I donated blood as I was scared my parents would beat me up if they knew what I had done. But two days later, I took the courage to tell my mother and to my surprise, she patted my shoulder and said she was proud. That motivated me to donate blood till date. I think it's the most sacred gift you could give to a fellow human being as it saves his or her life.
Blood shortage is a perennial issue. I was part of a blood donation camp in college. My blood type is B+ and I always thought with the group being common, there would not be a need to donate blood. But during the camp, I got to know that every blood group needs donors as there is a shortage of blood in our country. I worked in a rural area in Jammu and Kashmir a few years ago as part of a vocational training project. I was able to make the residents aware of blood donation drives and that too only because I was a donor. So, donating blood also motivates others to do the same. Now I give awareness classes to my students, who are in senior secondary, to donate blood after they turn 18 years old.