How to look at Blood Donations?

 By: Haris Ali  Date:
How to look at Blood Donations?

The first time I donated blood was some two years ago at a Thalassemia care centre while I was in my sophomore year at college studying business. As part of a course project we were required to present on a social organization and its efforts in helping people in their lives for which our project team comprising of three boys visited the care centre. I still remember the little four to six year olds had thankful eyes towards us for paying them a visit. The plight of a patient and their need intrigued me into donating blood which was also partially requested by our facilitator of the visit.

That was when I learnt the meaning of the sayings about blood donations savings lives and how blessed I was being a healthy person because I could simply not bear to realize any further when I learnt that Thalassemia results in stoppage of blood making within one’s body which is why blood needs to be taken out and new blood injected in a Thalassemia patient. How painful is the process? And those who go through it are small children. What if one day the care centre runs out of blood?

That is one example I set to try to illustrate how important a ready and available supply of blood is for a society. Let us come down to our beloved Karachi city and look at our lives.

Every day in this beloved city of lights, there are unfortunate people rushed to hospitals because they have been shot during a mugging, injured in a traffic accident or they may be lying in a hospital bed due to an illness and God knows what else. We know that of all such people who need blood to survive their unfortunate moments, their relatives or friends or family have to deal with a struggle to find some blood for them. We all may have been involved in this situation once.

They must find a donor if there is no blood at the hospital's exchange (which is an everyday tale at most of the hospitals in Karachi). A lot of people lose their lives because they are not amongst the fortunate ones for whom there are any donors who can help them fight the battle.

All these instances bring our thoughts towards one point. We are in a shortage of blood while the need for it is increasing daily not just in Karachi but across Pakistan where the socio-political situation is worsening day by day, giving a steady rise to emergency situations, adding up to our blood requirements.

It is argued that that people lack awareness of donating blood. As far as awareness is concerned, most of us are aware that many campaigns have been run that appeal for blood donations. Even Thalassemia awareness has brought about enough positioning in minds that blood donations are needed and we are short of blood requirements but then why is it that even those who see an appeal in a commercial or any social message do not actively go out and make a donation.

A large chunk of those who are aware are reluctant to donate due to health concerns, hygiene issues with donating equipment at facilities or ,in the flattest of explanations I have come across, they are scared to watch blood.

Actually these reasons might be fair for those who have it but taking in focus both the need and the availability of donations, it is more of a reservation than a reason. The main reason for this reservation is the general perception about blood donations that people have. For them, donating blood is an occasion or event or something that is considered as a noble deed that if done is highly appreciable otherwise there is no problem.

Blood donations must be looked at as a practice rather than an event. Sadly, to a large extent the fault lies in the upbringing and inculcation that we all receive since we first come across the term blood donation itself. We see drives by blood facility centers at college campuses, camps during Ashura days and other event driven instances where one may/may not donate blood. These give a perception that it is a particular event at which one can donate.

I must admit that not even my elders ever taught me to go to a blood facilitation centre and donate out of cause. Blood donation is never taught as a practice to be done for the sake of donating blood itself but rather the environment we live in and the attitude of our society around us indirectly crafts this in our minds that there are occasions when one can donate blood.

I remember just recently visiting a blood facility with a cousin of mine who works there. I expressed my wish to make a donation upon which one of the people working there replied, why do you wish to do so? That came as a real jolt. Although I donated but that question intrigued me into probing over the thought that people perceive blood donations not as a practice so that society needs can be met. Instead they look at it some event or need driven practice.

What is more surprising is that religion dominates our society yet, as a kid or even in older ages, never once we are taught by our Teachers or Molvi Sahabs as well about virtues of this practice while at the same time we are told about the benefits and virtues Islamic practices have for the entire humankind and that our religion holds a high regard for those who save lives.

The intention of this writing effort is not to trigger a series of thoughts as to who is responsible for the blood need and supply gap that we face. Anyone reading this is only requested to just consider that blood donation is to be looked upon as a regular and easy practice that can be carried out by any healthy individual and the reason is not just to save lives but to start creating something that is as equally importantly needed as water resources. Blood donations are as equally vital as a utility that is needed to run our lives.

The reason is simple. Apart from the philanthropy, there is a reality that calls for practicing something for the survival of the society. This country is already at war which is self explanatory about the magnitude of importance of blood donations in this context .Out there are people who need it and these might even be related to us. Someday we might be in need of it. Imagine the extent to which lifesaving can be raised if blood is available relatively easier than in the current situation we are facing.

Once we feel about anything in a different manner, we react towards it in a different manner. Similarly if we look at blood donations with the eye of a regular practice that is our dues as a citizen, this problem of blood shortages will be very much under our grip to be solved since our behavior in this regard would be something positively different and contributing.

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