Three months later Manoj is diagnosed of being HIV positive.
This is the case history of many other patients. They comprise approximately 5% of the patients in Bombay who suffer from blood transfusable diseases or viruses. So one can only imagine how high the risk factors are in not medically equipped areas. Blood is one of the most essential requirements in any kind of operation in any hospital. This obviously makes it a very sought after necessity. Following the theory of demand and supply, anything that is in high demand would be in restrictive supply. This issue of restricted blood supply in the middle of a crisis cannot be dealt with by a family member whose relative is dying on the operation table because of shortage of blood. Being faced with such a situation, the desperate patient’s relatives go to a blood banks. The bank gives him the blood. But this is where the horror of the situation comes into being. If the bank cannot organize the specific blood, professional donors who are ready to give their blood in exchange for money approach the relative who is by now extremely vulnerable and helpless. Realizing the urgency of the situation the family members succumb to the demands of the professional donors and thus the chain continues.
After certain studies, the surveyors have realized that neither the blood banks nor the professional donors are safe. The banks cannot meet the demand and so they open the doors to all, in turn exchanging safety for numbers. Which then leaves the option of the professional donors. Here is a man who has been checked only for S.T.D. thus making him a very unsafe option.
In order to beat this dangerous and vicious cycle, a few groups have triggered off. They form a network of people who come forward to donate safe uninfected blood following extremely hygienic procedures. One such group is “ LIFELINE”.
LIFELINE is a non-profit group that is aiming to make sure that the blood donated in our hospitals and blood banks is safe as well as reducing the risk factor of blood transfusable diseases. They organize meetings and gatherings for people who can voluntarily give blood and become part of their group permanently. Lifeline also has evolved with the concept of a blood donor registry. The registry is such that once you volunteer to join it you will be called to come forward when the need arises.
The coordinator of this group is Mr. Peter Dais, he is doing this work voluntarily because as he rightly says “That donating infected blood is committing murder”. He strongly believes as well as the statistics indicate that the blood in the banks is one of the root causes in spreading communicable and infectious diseases. His group therefore approaches healthy people and asks them to register themselves. The “Effort is worth it, as the result can be sometimes an eye opener to various issues”. Mr. Dais says. “Human beings as a people are very caring therefore many people are responsive. It was just that no one had ever asked them and they didn’t know how to donate or where to go”. Another very strong fear the donors have, is the safety precautions taken during the process of donation .In order to remove all of their hesitations and fears, Mr. Dais sets up camps in certain societies or colonies where professionals handle the donations using highly safe procedures. A donor should and must ask if the “Plasma bag and the syringes are new and sealed and have not been previously used”.
Lifeline, along with Mr. Dais comprises of four other professionals:
Mrs. Faith Sood–ex chair person of The Red Cross Society
Dr. Bobby John–surgeon
Dr. Timothy Jonus-surgeon
Five of them together are hoping to soon start an organ donor registry. The registry comprises of 600 members and is continuously growing. The key to it all is awareness and a little use of the concept of multi level marketing among the people. Mr.Dias says, “In the United States however conditions are different. Their blood banks are relatively safe because they narrow the margin of donors and make it strict to donate that one would be extremely sure of their health status before donating blood”. As soon one is 18 yrs of age the schools make it compulsory to donate blood thus there is constant recycling of the blood supply in the banks. They do not encourage relative donorship, because they want to make sure that the donorship is completely voluntary and there is no kind of pressure on the donor. This unfortunately cannot be followed in India, as the family and relative response is the extremely effective.
Inspite of the existing vicious cycle involving the unaware needy patient, the greedy professional donor and the helpless blood banks, there is yet hope. The people need to put the power back in their hands and make sure that the donors and the techniques involved are safe. Once that aim is accomplished at least one can make sure that unlike Manoj you would not be an unaware victim of circumstance.
Lifeline is the expression of people to build a network of mutual support and care in times of personal emergencies.