Rationalizing Donor Deferrals

Voluntary blood donation drives are the cornerstone of a continuous supply of safe blood in India. Organising a voluntary blood donation drive means not only making necessary infrastructure arrangements but also creating awareness and education among a large potential donor pool to motivate them to come forward and donate blood. Donor recruitment and retention have been key challenges for blood banks and voluntary blood donor organisations across the world. Sankalp India Foundation has been organising regular voluntary blood donation drives since March 2007. Since then, more than 500 blood donation drives and 55,000 units of blood have been collected in these camps till March 2015. The aggregates indicate that 12-20% of employees in corporate offices and about 20-25% students in a college come forward to donate blood when a drive is organised in their campus. In 2014, 15,200 donors in 151 blood donation drives volunteered to donate blood. Of this, only 11,700 were deemed eligible to donate. The remaining 23% were deferred for various reasons. In some blood donation drives, the deferral was as high as 45-50%. The need to minimise donor deferral is widely acknowledged. Unnecessary deferrals negatively impact the overall collection of blood - a serious implication for a nation like ours which is yet to achieve 100% voluntary blood donation. More pronounced damage than immediate loss of blood units is the fact that deferral has been linked with lower donor return rates both in first-time and repeat donors. An injudicious deferral has the potential of a loss of blood donor for a lifetime. Studies taken up in different centers across the world put the deferral between 5-25%.Most of the studies go on to emphasize the fact that strategies to minimize deferral are needed to ensure an adequate and safe blood supply. Tomasulo et al. has shown that donor deferral rates can be reduced without compromising donor's safety. Sankalp India Foundation measured deferrals in outdoor voluntary blood donation drives with a good mixture of donors of both gender, first-time/repeat donors, and various age groups. Thus our observation is more relevant to voluntary blood donation drives. With the intent of arriving at a uniform, evidence-based blood donor deferral criteria Sankalp India Foundation has started a consultation process with blood banks. we invite blood banks, donors, organisers and other people associated with voluntary blood donation to join in and be part of this attempt to arrive at common ‘Guidelines for accessing suitability of donors for blood donation’.
Patrika Edition