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Tuesday, July 31, 2001

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Dreamers with a vision


DREAM was conceived on World Health Day in the year of Blood Safety on April 7, 2000.

TOTAL VOLUNTARY blood donation by April 7, 2003 is their DREAM - and the Donor Recognition Empowerment Awareness Management, a project of the Jeevan Blood Bank and Research Centre is all set to achieve it.

``Children are fantastic motivators for the cause of blood donation,'' recalls Dr. P. Srinivasan, Director Jeevan who aims at creation of a culture of donation... the culture of helping somebody.

At Padma Sarangapani School where Jeevan's blood donation drive was in progress, he was face to face with a group of students who insisted that he donate blood. He had to relent when they continued to persuade him.

Observing that there exists a wide gap between demand and supply of blood and 70 per cent of the donors give blood to help a friend. Many a tragic death has occurred due to non- availability of blood, he says.

Dr. Saranya Narayan, also a founder-director says that though people were willing to donate, reasons like, ``Nobody asked me'', ``I didn't have the time'', were cited. The only way to bridge the demand-supply gap is to enlist more and more for voluntary donations. DREAM was conceived on World Health Day in the year of Blood Safety on April 7, 2000. Creating awareness, enrolment camps for voluntary donors and retention of donors are tasks that are part of their agenda.

``What do we do to recognise the one lakh who give blood voluntarily?'' asks Dr. Srinivasan, calling for a system to encourage more donors to follow. One of their latest schemes is registration through the internet to enlist more donors.

Taking a holistic approach to donation and storing of blood, Dr. Srinivasan welcomes the Central Government's initiative for allowing storage of blood in community, primary health centres and hospitals. This is the first step towards a centralised storage and processing facility which provides adequate space and uniform procedures.

While in the United States, 120 blood banks provide 20 million units of blood, in India, 1,200 banks generate 4.5 units.

The reason for the dichotomy, according to Dr. Srinivasan, is that in the west, the facilities are centralised and blood centres in each hospital draw their requirements from centralised banks.

His wish is that this should happen in India too. A first step towards this effort is the satellite blood centre at Sundaram Medical Foundation with trained staff to store, cross- match and release blood.

Part of the agenda is to get a working centralised model in Chennai going before it can be replicated in the other districts of the State for a target of 50 blood banks with several satellite centres. Centralised facilities can help us catch with nucleic acid testing and other new technologies in blood testing.

``We've started targeting school children to talk about the importance of blood donation, dispel myths and prepare the next generation,'' say the doctors who call for enrolments to donate blood at www.jeevan.org or safeblood@vsnl.com.

By Akila Dinakar

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