Irrational blood donor deferral refuses to stop!

Hemoglobin test is a very important factor to determine whether the donors, whether male or female are fit to donate blood. Drugs & Cosmetic Act permit blood banks to collect blood only when the donor has a minimum hemoglobin level of 12.5 gm/dl.  That means no blood bank should take blood from the donors who has hemoglobin less than 12.5 gm/dl. And, donor should undergo hemoglobin test every time he/she donates blood.

The basic concept is that we should not deprive or harm the donor and at the same time, should benefit the recipient. The donor is eligible to donate if he or she meets the criteria.

Recently in one of the Blood Donation Drive at a prominent organization, conducted by Sankalp India Foundation, there was an incident where a donor was being deferred by the Medical officer, on the grounds of low hb count just because she was looking very fair and pale. The Donor was very eager to donate blood. The Medical Officer mentioned to her that he suspected she is having low hb count and her weight was 53 kgs, so she should not take a chance.

The donor was insisting continuously, when a Sankalp Volunteer intervened and asked her to fill in the form and get her Hemoglobin tested as per the standard process followed in a blood donation camp. The donor readily did so and after her hb test through the copper sulphate method, it was found that she was eligible to donate blood. Later when she further went for checking her Blood Pressure, it was found that she had a low BP, based on which the doctor had deferred her. The donor then confronted the Medical Officer as to why he said to her that she had low hb count without even checking? The Medical officer tried to justify saying that I did not check you clinically as well and then looked at her eyes and said her that she has a good hb count.

Scientifically speaking a donor having minimum hemoglobin of 12.5 gm/dl can tolerate removal of 1 gm of hemoglobin along with one unit of blood (350 or 450 ml).  This loss is regained to the donor within a month's period.  But, however, to give adequate time for recovery, a minimum of 3 months, is given to the donor before next donation.

Despite all the established protocols, these kinds of malpractices still happen in Voluntary Blood Donation Drives, which is a matter of grave concern. Sankalp Volunteers have thus made it a regular practice to ensure that they carry the Standard Deferral Guideline. This helps in making the Blood Banks aware of the existing protocols to be followed in terms of donor selection and not just defer them on their whims and fancies.

“This kind of practices also propagates the chances of healthy donors not donating blood. Donors may also lose interest to donate blood if treated unfairly.”

Thus, adopting a uniform policy for selection/ deferral of donors is the need of the hour. We hope that it is being followed and adhered to in the Voluntary Blood Donation Drives.

Sankalp Unit
Patrika Section