The Rakta Kranti Bangalore Wing of Sankalp India Foundation aims to achieve 100% voluntary blood donation in the city. With this work description, it is responsible to conduct safe and quality conscious voluntary blood donation drives. These drives that are initiated, planned and executed by Sankalp are called as the I Care Blood Donation Drives.
The catch line of these drives is ‘I CARE, DO YOU?’ indicating that by being a blood donor I have done something to be proud of, have you done the same too? For this it will be essential to target potentially safe and low risk donors.
There are a host of improvements in our blood donation drives over the conventional blood donation drives. The essential concepts, ideas and methodologies that make help us achieve the set goals are indicated below:
Donors should be actively involved, informed and educated
Contribution to a cause by any individual is largely dependent on the visibility the person has about the issue. Most of the donors do not have a clear idea of the magnitude of shortage of blood, , the suffering of the patients, the issues related to safe blood and the modern blood donation and transfusion practices. With a distant view of the system they find the motivation factor lacking. Moreover, there is little feedback about the impact of the blood donated.
Sankalp strongly believes in making the blood donors active participants and stakeholders in the blood donation process. The in and out of the blood collection, processing and distribution process is informed to the donor. We encourage the donors to ask the difficult questions and provide the correct explanations and answers. Our IEC material has been designed to act like a ready reference for the donors. Well designed posters, banners, brochures, mails, document guides etc are presented to the potential donors so that they get to understand every aspect in detail and also enable them to verify the authenticity and the transparency of the drive. The idea of empowering and informing donors before they donate has led to the increase in confidence of the donors.
Uniform standards and practices
From the perspective of donors and volunteers in various organizations, the effort to find out and understand the standards and practices that need to be followed for organizing the drives is immense. The hosts often find themselves in a fix about what to expect from a blood bank. The information sources give out conflicting signals, especially since the e-age communication gives more access to the standards adopted in the western countries.
After careful evaluation and fact finding, Sankalp has been able to come up with the basic quality standards and practices for a blood donation drive. We provide the same to the host organizations and also to the participant blood banks. This has been instrumental in addressing the varying standards the blood banks were adopting. Starting from donor eligibility criteria, to the procedure to be adopted after the donation is over, things are now clearly defined and understood by all stakeholders.
People tend to me more responsive and open to their colleagues than any external facilitators. For a powerful IEC campaign the most important requirement is the presence of a team of volunteers from the organization. Being a part of the host organization, this volunteer team can work wonders in taking the message of blood donation to everyone in the organization. This volunteer group is what we have named – ‘Team Red’. Team Red is a group of willing volunteers who not only steer the IEC Campaign in an organisation; but are also the guardians of donor’s safety and well being. Specific training is provided to the Team Red volunteers to enable them to rig up a very effective publicity campaign. They are also made fully aware of the procedure to be followed in the pre-donation, during donation and post donation areas. They have access to a wide range of literature and resources.
One Sankalp volunteer maintains the contact with the ‘Team Red’ and through constant interaction ensures the team is effective enough to make a difference to the way the drive is conducted. Furthermore, the Team Red also serves to be an effective point of communication to ensure necessary infrastructure and logistics support is put in place by the company.
Well Distributed Blood Stocks
Based on the number of units of blood expected to be collected, we invite multiple blood banks to our drives. The general formula adopted is that for every 100-125 units of blood that are expected to be donated, we call one blood bank. This methodology has multiple benefits:
- Since in a medium sized company we expect a few hundred units to be collected, each time blood is provided to blood banks from different parts of Bangalore , thus addressing citywide shortage issues.
- For one team of blood bank staff, collecting about 100 units of blood is just optimal for a day. We have observed higher post donation problems in drives where single blood bank collected more units.
- In drives where a single blood bank collects a large number of units, the component separation suffers tremendously. It is not logistically feasible to separate a large number of units of blood into components due to the timing limitation of 6 hours within which the component must be separated. With more blood banks taking reasonable number of units, component separation is boosted.
- Blood stocks in the blood banks are replenished more often when they participate in blood drives where many blood banks participate. It ushers in more co-operation and co-ordination between blood banks and encourages optimal utilization of blood even from very large drives.
Bangalore is home to a plethora of software houses. The associates there are usually well educated and are thus the easiest to approach and take the message of voluntary blood donation forward. The team contacts companies and tries to explain to them the necessity and importance of organising an event of this kind in the company and tries to convince them to hold a blood donation drive. The contacts are obtained through previous donors or other people who have interacted with the organisation for different purposes, or also contacts personally known to the team.
In many cases the same companies are visited back after a span of 6 months and another drive is conducted. In cases where the number of donors is really huge, the frequency can be as good as one drive in 4 months.
The focus of these drives are twofold, one is obviously to conduct a blood donation camp and collect some units of blood and the other being educating and encouraging and motivating potential donors. The Rakta Kranti team is involved in the complete end to end management of the drive, and only hopes for infrastructural and some manpower support from the company. As a result a full fledged drive is held at the company premises on a chosen day.
Choice of Blood Bank
We have close to fifty blood banks in Bangalore. In-spite of this, there are only a handful few who abide by the basic concepts related to blood safety. When a person donates blood voluntarily to a blood bank, the person expects the blood bank to provide that blood to the suffering on need basis. There is an expectation of no discrimination between the patients. No donor wishes to donate blood for a blood bank that is involved in shady practices, and which is run by purely commercial motives. Also, the donor feels cheated if the blood he/she donates is used exclusively for patients from a particular section of society who are not one of those who face maximum suffering.
Considering all these foundation stone concepts of voluntary blood donation we are very particular about the choice of blood banks. The following are the basic principles we use:
Openness of the Blood Bank to share blood with all patients in Bangalore
Sankalp’s Project Disha is a toll free helpline for blood. People from all parts of the city can call this helpline number and locate the closest place where safe blood is available. The helpline works in a very transparent manner collecting stocks from blood banks on a daily basis. The caller is directed to the most appropriate blood bank considering availability of blood, physical distance and blood bank operational timings as factors. Blood Banks who enact the promise of helping out people purely on need and emergency basis have cherished the idea of the helpline. They are providing blood stocks information readily and regularly and participating in ensuring that the patients are directed to safe places and procure the unit of blood quickly and efficiently. The CTC Disha participant blood banks are well recognized institutions of the city which are known to have served the cause of voluntary blood donation for quite some time. The blood banks who are exhibiting enthusiastic participation in CTC Disha are the ones which the Rakta Kranti team considers to invite to the voluntary blood donation drives.
Sensitivity to Donor’s Safety and well being
Sankalp invites only those blood banks which are committed to ensuring blood donor’s safety and well being as the foremost principle in blood donation drives. At the end of each blood donation drive the shortcomings are communicated to the blood banks with an expectation that they will do the needful to address the concerns.
Before a camp is organized a rough estimate of blood shortage in the city is made. Those blood banks which are more likely to face shortages are invited to the camps on a higher priority.
Quality, transparency and progressiveness
For the overall improvement of the blood transfusion services in the city it is important that blood banks are committed to ensuring world class quality standards. Transparency of operation is a direct consequence of good working practices. Progressiveness and willingness to improve the existing norms is the way ahead. Organizations who value these concepts and make them a part of their working are definitely to be encouraged.
Better planning for Blood Donation Drives Timing
In order to combat the periodic shortages of blood Sankalp encourages more organizations to arrange blood drives in the shortage periods6.5. Even within a shorter span of one month, the blood drives are carefully spaced out to ensure that the delivery of blood to the city is not spiked.
In future we aim at synchronizing the blood donation drive calendars from various blood banks with ours to ensure that our drives are planned at the times of immense shortage.
Making Drives Regular
Sankalp has been working towards encouraging the host organizations to hold two blood donation drives a year and thereby double their contribution. Overcoming this major mind-block of annual blood donation drives has enabled very good performance metrics for us.