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‘Save A Life’ campaign to be organised on National Blood Donation Day on October 1

Tata Memorial Centre, Nargis Dutt Memorial Charitable Trust, ImPaCCT Foundation and G.J. Kapoor Foundation will organise ‘Save A Life’ campaign on National Blood Donation Day, October 1, 2015. First October is observed as the National Blood Donation Day, the birthday of Prof. J.G. Jolly, former head of department of transfusion medicine at PGI Chandigarh, who is credited with starting the first transfusion medicine department in the country and developing transfusion as a specialty in India.Save-A-Life

“God’s own helpers- working anonymously yet with utmost sincerity-without care of glory or fame-resolutely saving and sustaining lives- they are- sterling examples of humanity,” said Dr. R.A. Badwe, director, Tata Memorial Centre.

“My association with cancer and with Tata Memorial Hospital goes back more than 30 years. I just tried to carry on the work my father so passionately did. I saw such dedication amongst the doctor’s here, they were not just performing their duty as doctors, but went beyond that with their patients. They felt their pain and agony and did everything to reduce that. At that time when I met with them and we discussed what can we do to help them, they conveyed the need for a constant supply of platelets and how unfortunate it is when a patient undergoing treatment dies due to lack of it. That is when ‘Save a life’ was initiated. We started by educating ourselves and learning all about it and dispelling all the myths. We realized to bring in donors, all we have to do is to create an awareness, specially amongst youth. That’s how our journey began and today we have 70 per cent donors fulfilling the requirement for platelets at TMH. When they know that one hour of their lives can Save a precious life, they keep coming  back as the beacon of hope for our patients,” said Priya Dutt, trustee, Nargis Dutt Memorial Charitable Trust.

Dr. Sunil Rajadhyaksha, head, department of transfusion medicine, Tata Memorial Hospital says, “Provision of safe and adequate blood should be an integral part of each country’s Health Care Policy. Against a target requirement of 12 million units only 10 million units of blood are collected in India. Less than 5 per cent of donors donate in India whereas in some developed countries the figure is as high as 30 to 40 per cent. There is a wider gap in availability of platelets due to lack of awareness. Platelet donations on the Cell Separator machine collected by Apheresis technique, called Single Donor Platelets (SDPs), are at least six times as effective as platelets separated from donated whole blood units and can be done more frequently. Voluntary blood and platelet donations are perhaps the most perfect examples of altruism in action and the best means of providing safe blood components to bridge this gap in demand and supply. Tata Memorial Hospital is grateful to all the selfless samaritans who give a part of themselves so that others may live.”

Dr. Brijesh Arora, professor, paediatric oncology, Tata Memorial Hospital says, “Blood components cannot be made in the laboratory and lack of voluntary donors has lead to loss of precious lives in past. The success of “Save A Life” lies in being able to leverage the untapped societal will to help and save others by going directly to the youth and connecting them to the cause. This novel model in a short time has become a national and international example for others by successfully overcoming the platelet shortage.”

“Save A Life is innovative and successful public participation initiative with a significant impact. These volunteers, by donating platelets, multiple times, have helped us save many lives. More from the society need to be recognise the importance of platelets and its shortage in hospitals like TMH, and join the cause”, said Dr. Tushar Vora, associate professor, paediatric oncology, Tata Memorial Hospital.

“Cancer treatment is long, can last from 6-24 months and 95 per cent families getting treatment at Tata Memorial Hospital, come from outside Mumbai who find it challenging to find any donors to provide platelets if required, during these long period of stay at Mumbai. Sadly, in India there are cultural myths against blood/platelet donations. With Save A Life, treatment refusal and abandonment in the Tata has been reduced from less than 20 per cent to less than 5 per cent due to multipronged approach including platelet support,” added Shalini Jatia, social worker, paediatric oncology, Tata Memorial Hospital

The voluntary Platelet Donor Registry campaign was initiated in November 2009 by a team consisting of transfusion medicine specialists, paediatric oncologists and support from Nargis Dutt Charitable Trust, ImPaCCT Foundation and G.J. Kapoor Foundation. In the last 5 years, a total of 2280 donors were enrolled in the registry, 980 donated platelets and more than 75 of these voluntary donors have donated platelets more than 10 times, 15 have donated more than 25 times and 3 good samaritans have donated platelets more than 100 times.

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