NEW DELHI – June 14th is the World Health Organization’s (WHO) annual World Blood Donor Day. The day is observed by all WHO member states and “serves to thank voluntary, unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood and to raise awareness of the need for regular blood donations to ensure the quality, safety and availability of blood and blood products for patients in need.”
The organization recommends that each member country maintain a reserve of units of blood equivalent to 1% of the country’s population. It has been difficult for India to maintain that threshold. A report presented to India’s lower house of parliament on March 23, 2018, put the reserve at 1.9 million units short.
Although some regions have been able to maintain a surplus, others are well short of their expected need. Several northern regions are operating far below the standard, including Bihar where 1.17 million units are needed but only 182,242 (16%) are available. Uttar Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh have only 39% of the expected need on hand.
The regions with a surplus include Karnataka (157%), Dadra & Nagar Haveli (242%), Gujarat (132%), Tamil Nadu (114%), Punjab (138%), Mizoram (216%), West Bengal (115%), Uttarakhand (114%), Haryana (107%), Maharashtra (120%), and Telangana (112%).
Although 11.1 million units were voluntarily collected in 2016-2017, that number fell short of the 13.0-million-unit target. IndiaSpend put some perspective on the blood drought, citing the shortage as the equivalent of 60 standard tanker trucks.
Kiran Verma Raising Awareness
Kiran Verma, a 33-year-old Indian man, is the creator of Simply Blood, a smartphone app that is the world’s first virtual blood donation platform. Following the loss of his mother to cancer, Kiran decided to make it his mission to save at least a million lives by 2020 through promoting voluntary blood donation.
The free Simply Blood app notifies users so that persons in need of blood in India no longer need to personally contact donors. The app is location-based so that users can find donors nearest to their location in three easy steps. Satisfaction with the app is very high. One user said, “I should have (had) your app as the first thing on my mobile, even before WhatsApp.”
To further promote awareness of the need for blood donors, Kiran recently completed a 6,500 km trek from Lal Chowk, Srinagar in the northernmost part of India all the way to Trivandrum in the far south. He walked more than 2,600 of those kilometers. (See the map at the beginning of the article to better visualize his journey.) He spoke to more than 600,000 people, sharing his vision with people wherever he went, including restaurants, bus stations, and colleges and universities.
It should be noted that Kiran not only walked the country, he walks his talk. He is a regular blood donor at government hospitals.
- World Health Organization, World Blood Donor Day, 14 June 2018
- IndiaSpend, India 60 Tankers Short Of Blood In 2016-17, As Shortage Increases
- Wikipedia, World Blood Donor Day
- The Times of India, On World Blood Donor Day, a look at the benefits of being a blood donor
- Your Story, Simply Blood, world’s first virtual blood donation platform, is helping save lives worldwide
- India TV, World Blood Donor Day 2018: This man in Kerala walked 6,000 km to spread blood donation awareness