FAQ – Blood Safety
Q.1 Is there a National Blood Policy?
Ans: Yes, a National Blood Policy has been formulated and is now being implemented with the mission to ensure easily accessible and adequate supply of safe and quality blood collected from voluntary non-remunerated regular blood donors.
Q.2 What are the infections for which blood is tested?
Ans: The Drugs & Cosmetics Act provides mandatory testing of blood for five major infections viz. HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Syphilis & Malaria. Every unit of blood is tested for all these infections.
Q.3 What does the term ‘Service Charge’ means in blood banks?
Ans: No charges for blood as such can be levied by any blood bank. However, the blood that is collected from a donor at no cost, needs to be processed to make it free of infection, to ensure that it has certain minimum quality standards. It also needs to be stored and tested with recipient’s blood before transfusion. Besides all these, establishment costs for the blood bank like infrastructure maintenance, salaries etc. add to the overall costs of providing a safe unit of blood to the patient. Blood banks attempt to recover these costs as service charge from the consumer.
Q.4 NBTC was constituted subsequent to Supreme Court judgment in 1996 with the focus of catering to Nation’s blood security. The prime objective was to phase out professional donors and focus on voluntary donations. How far has this policy been successful and how much voluntary blood is collected in the country?
Ans: Soon after setting up of the National Blood Transfusion Council (NBTC) at the Centre and State Blood Transfusion Councils (SBTCs) in each state/UTs, a complete ban has been imposed on collection of blood from paid donors, with effect from 1st January, 1998. A number of steps were taken by NBTC to keep a strict check on exploitation of the blood users by commercial and private blood banks. SBTCs were provided funds by NBTC to mobilise blood collection through voluntary blood donations. Extensive awareness programmes for donor motivation through Information, Education, Motivation, Recruitment and Retention of voluntary donors was launched. Each state is given an annual target for collection of blood through voluntary sources and this is regularly reviewed by NACO.
Q.5 Is the blood issued by blood banks safe?
Ans: Yes. As per the National Blood Safety Programme of NACO, it is mandatory on the blood banks to test every unit of blood properly for grouping, cross matching and testing for HIV, Syphilis, Hepatitis B & C and Malaria before it is issued for transfusion. Facilities have been provided by NACO to all the government and charitable blood banks like Red Cross to carry out these tests.
Q.6 Can one acquire HIV infection if one donates blood?
Ans: No, this is not possible as all materials used for collection of blood are sterile and disposable. Donating blood is a noble gesture. People who are healthy should come forward for donating blood voluntarily.
Q.7 Why one should donate blood?who can donate Blood?
Ans: There is a constant need of blood, for transfusion throughout the year. But true voluntary donors are few. Nobody can predict who will require blood at any point of time. The existence of a good donor base in the community is an insurance for everybody in respect of one’s blood needs. There can be a good donor base in the community provided, each capable and eligible person in prepared to donate blood and it is only the real voluntary blood donors who can ensure safe blood transfusion. (Any healthy person between the age group of 18-60 years, weighing 45 kg or more with a haemoglobin content of at least 12.5 gms per 100 cc or more can donate blood.
Q.8 Is there any inspection of blood banks?
Ans: Yes. The blood banks can only function if they are licensed by the Drug Inspectors of the Food and Drug Administration of the respective states. The Drugs & Cosmetics Act provides a legal framework under which the blood banks are inspected and issued a proper license, which is renewed every alternate year. Every blood bank has to prominently display its license for anyone to check.