Each year, World Blood Donor Day is observed on June 14. The idea has been to promote awareness about the benefits of blood donation, and how it helps in saving lives. While it is crucial to have blood banks adequately stocked, but due to paucity of voluntary blood donors, especially in a country like India, there is always a shortage of blood.

And the blood shortage tends to promote illegal blood donations that can do more harm than good, say experts.

“Donated blood is immediately sent for screening but there’s a window period in which one cannot trace infections in the donated blood. In HIV, e.g., the window period is 5days, for hepatitis C it’s 7-8 days and for hepatitis B it’s as high as 22 days and even with the most advanced kits it’s not possible to pick up the infection sooner,” says a doctor from Department of Haematology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

Transfusing unsafe blood can lead to getting infections, at times a serious one such as HIV or hepatitis.

The best way to ensure safety is by increasing the number of voluntary donors, which in India is the source of about 80% blood donations currently.

Those who are regular donors are usually considered safe donors as chances of finding blood-related infections in them that might get passed on to another person through blood transfusion are less.

Falling short of blood

79%: voluntary blood donations

2 million: blood units required annually

9%: shortfall

Blood components

Four types of transfusable components: red cells, platelets, plasma and cryoprecipitate