Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Indian blood donor in the UK

The blood group was persistent. No let me begin again. The National Blood Service, which takes care of organizing for blood donations and providing it to hospitals, was persistent. They sent me letters, one every month. The last one was really really disapproving. This is how it sounded to me like
'In spite of sending you repeated reminders, you still have not donated blood. Tsk, tsk. That you are busy doesn't mean you are allowed to let so many people die. Get your bloody arse out of that chair and go donate'.

Now I have been a prima donor, having attended and donated a number of times (atleast 5). So I called up the blood service booking an appointment. Well, they make me fill all my personal details (2 pages of them). And... they find that I am an Indian. Oh my God! Everyone run! Houston we have a problem. A person from a malaria prone country is giving blood. Some twisted bio warfare assault on the malaria virus -mune people of Great Britian. Get lost, you filthy Indian, you can't donate blood. Come back after 6 months, if you want to. An Indian cannot donate blood within 6 months of coming from India.

Let me calm my nerves here for a while. Lets go by stats. There were 890 malaria deaths in India in 2006 . Based on the population of India, that's 0.00009%. 890 in terms of human loss is hardly disregardable, but does that mean, we treat every Indian as a malaria carrier? That risk is so low as to be insignificant. Not accepting blood based on some trivial, unsubstantiated risk, is actually doing great disservice to those in UK who are desperately in need of blood.

Is there a way to mitigate the risk? There definitely is. Allow for a blood donation and then test it for malaria. If it is infected, discard it. The cost of taking and storing the blood is far far less than the use that it can put to, in case it is clean.

Am I going to donate after 6 months? Who knows. I think the NBS lost a great chance for some free blood. Esp, considering that it is in dire need for blood from ethnic minorities. Now, here's a stat.

Only 3% of the UK donors are ethnic minorities. Know why?
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