Let’s Celebrate World Blood Donor Day!

Blood cannot be synthetically manufactured. Blood donated by donors is the ONLY source!

Let's Celebrate World Blood Donor Day!
Let's Celebrate World Blood Donor Day!

Dr. Sheetal Manrekar

Today (June 14) is World Blood Donor Day.

Donate blood. Save lives. Get healthier.

Blood and blood products obtained by blood donation can help save the lives of millions of people. Blood is required for medical problems like-

– Anaemia
– Trauma
– Complications during pregnancy and delivery
– Surgical emergencies
– Medical conditions like Thalassaemia, Sickle cell disease, Clotting factor deficiency (Hemophilia)
– Blood cancers
– Cancer patients on chemotherapy

Blood cannot be synthetically manufactured. Blood donated by donors is the ONLY source!

World Blood Donor Day.
World Blood Donor Day. Pixabay

Blood donation not only helps those in need but it also has certain health benefits for the blood donors.

It decreases blood viscosity (thickness of blood) and enables a better flow of blood in the body. This also prevents damage to the arteries and maintains a healthy heart and blood vessels.
It regulates iron levels in the blood. Presence of excess iron in the blood can be damaging to blood vessels due to oxidative stress.

It regulates blood regeneration. Replacement of the red cells takes 48 hours and complete replacement takes 1-2 months.
Lowers the risk of certain cancers (liver lung colon, stomach, throat).

Evaluations done before blood donation enable donors to get regular check-ups and monitor their health.

It provides a sense of fulfillment and optimism as you know you have done a good deed.

This article was originally published in Same Condition. SameCondition is an online platform for patients and people looking to connect with others dealing with same (medical) conditions.



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COVID Warriors Organize Blood Donation Camp, Fight Pandemic with Sweat and Blood

Healthcare workers at the forefront of the war against COVID war are not only saving human lives but are also organizing blood donation drives

Blood donation camps during pandemic organized by AIIMS follow strict distancing protocols. Pixabay


At a time when the entire country is battling the novel coronavirus, the healthcare workers at the forefront of the war against the pandemic are not only facing the challenges in saving human lives but are also donating blood for the needy, as blood donation has dried up during the lockdown.

The doctors, nurses and technicians of Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) have been organising blood donation camps and are donating blood more frequently than ever amid the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. On Sunday, May 31, this will be the 9th blood donation camp during the pandemic. The camp will be organised by the doctors, partnering with some NGOs. One such organisation is National Medicos Organisation which has organised eight blood donation camps in the last two months in Delhi with 629 donations under “Rakta-Dhara” Abhiyan.

All camps were held in large halls with adequate distancing, hand hygiene and sanitization measures. Healthcare workers used proper PPEs in these camps. Four of these camps were in association with AIIMS blood bank, while one each with RML hospital, GTB hospital, Hindu Rao and Swami Dayanand hospital. Saksham, another NGO which collaborated with the technicians, has organised at least 17 blood donation camps during the lockdown.

Speaking to IANS, Dr Amit Malviya, Senior Resident at the AIIMS and Blood donation drive coordinator said, “Our upcoming blood donation camp is on May 31, at armed forces transfusion centre (AFTC) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. I want to appeal to all voluntary donors residing nearby to come up for blood donation for our army jawans and their family members.” He also said that all the donors should wear proper masks and follow distancing and hand hygiene while visiting the camp or blood bank for the donation.

Blood donation
The doctors, nurses and technicians of Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) have been organising blood donation camps. Pixabay

Emphasizing on the significance of the blood donation amid a pandemic, the doctor said, “Due to lockdown many regular voluntary donors and relatives of patients have been facing difficulties to reach the blood banks for donations. Apart from it, some degree of fear of COVID in public may have reduced motivation of voluntary donors in reaching the hospitals. Therefore, it becomes even more important for everyone including the healthcare workers to donate blood.”

He also said that the hospitals, besides managing the pandemic, are also performing several emergency surgeries, cancer surgeries and surgeries of patients suffering road traffic accident and trauma cases. All these surgeries require transfusion of blood and blood products. Also patients of Thalassemia, Aplastic Anemia, other Hematological disorders, blood cancers regularly require blood transfusion.

There are many myths about the blood donation due to the pandemic in the country. People think whether they should visit or avoid visiting blood banks or donation camps fearing contracting the disease. To this, Malviya said, “Blood banks and blood donation facilities are usually located in a different block or wing of the hospital. The staff and doctors working in the blood bank are not the ones working in COVID wards. Donation rooms are sanitized at regular intervals and after each donation.” He also added that blood donation camps during pandemic follow strict distancing protocols.

“Camps are usually held in large halls like auditoriums, schools, resorts with adequate distancing between donation beds. Doctors and health-care workers use appropriate N95 masks, gowns and face shields as PPEs. All donors also wear masks and are provided with hand sanitizers. Therefore there is nothing to fear.” The doctor said that COVID-19 screening of donors is done prior to donation. This includes thermal scanning, history of contact with known positives, travel to certain countries, residence in hotspots, 4 to 6 weeks fever or COVID symptoms free interval.

Blood Donation
The camp will be organised by the doctors, partnering with some NGOs. Pixabay

Dr Ila Varsi, Consultant in the Neurology at AIIMS, told IANS that she is a regular donor, just like most doctors at the AIIMS. She said that at least 5 to 8 doctors are voluntarily donating blood every day.

“Doctors and healthcare workers donate blood regularly or whenever required, as we are the immediate donor pool available in the hospital setup. I donate blood every third month and plan to donate next in the blood donation camp organized by the National Medicos Organization on May 31 at Army blood bank. A Nursing Officer Kanishk Yadav at the AIIMS told IANS that the nursing officers at AIIMS are regular donors and continue to do so in pandemic too.

Also Read: The Future Of India will Be Based on ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’

“We had organized a blood donation camp in AIIMS on International Nurses day on May 12. Few nursing officers at AIIMS started a blood donation camp initiative 2 years ago under the banner of Rajasthani Mitra mandal (RMM) which have organized eighteen camps in two years and two camps during lockdown,” said Yadav.(IANS)

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Know About the Importance of Iron in Blood

Can Iron worsen Malaria infection? Find it out here

The body cannot make enough healthy red blood cells, if it lacks the required quantity of iron. (Representational Image). Pixabay

Iron is an essential mineral for most of organisms. The body cannot make enough healthy red blood cells, if it lacks the required quantity of iron. The lack of red blood cells is called iron deficiency anemia.

Dr Niti Kautish, Senior consultant, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad, sheds light on the importance or iron.

It is an important component of hemoglobin and helps in transporting oxygen throughout the body. But at the same time an excess iron can also be very dangerous. It promotes the formation of damaging oxidative radicals. This can also deposit in organs such as the liver, heart and pancreas which can lead to conditions like cirrhosis, heart failure and diabetes. Since both iron deficiency and high concentration of iron can compromise cellular function, the levels of in the cells must be regulated precisely.

Malaria parasites feed on iron in blood. (Representational Image). Pixabay

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This can be well studied in the case of malaria. Malaria infections are a major global cause of anemia. The relationship between malaria and iron is often debated. It has been a subject of discussion in the global health community since 2006, ever since a large-scale trial on the island of Pemba discovered that iron supplementation in children related to the rise in malaria-related mortality.

Through the study conducted by National Institute of Health (NIH), let us further understand the relationship between iron and malaria; and how iron worsens malaria infection:

Malaria parasites feed on iron. Organisms have a protein called ferroprotein, which prevents toxic buildup of iron in RBC. It also protects the cells against malaria infection. By studying mice and samples from malaria patients, researchers found out that high concentration of iron interferes with ferroprotein.Fe

The researchers observed that lack of ferroprotein in erythroid cells (red blood cells and their precursors) allowed iron to accumulate to toxic levels inside RBCs. The mice with intact ferroprotein were more stable, had less parasites and better outcomes as compared to the mice that lacked ferroprotein.

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It was also observed that a hormone called hepcidin regulates ferroprotein in red blood cells and their precursors. The hormone is more abundant in high iron concentration and lowers the ferroprotein level. It also prevents iron from being removed from the cells.

The lack of red blood cells is called iron deficiency anemia. (Representational Image). Pixabay

The researchers also studied if the ferroprotein mutation Q248H, which is found in African population protects against malaria.

After studying children hospitalized for malaria in Zambia, it was observed that nearly 20 percent of the children who had the mutation, had fewer malarial parasites and tolerated fewer for longer period before visiting the hospital. The results stated that the mutation protects ferroprotein from hepcidin’s effects, and thus protects against malaria. This further explains the presence of mutation in the people living in malaria endemic regions.

Also Read- Here’s What You Should Tell Your Kids About Coronavirus

In another study on 290 pregnant women in Ghana, it was observed that the 9 percent, who had the ferroprotein mutation Q248H, were comparatively less prone to pregnancy associated malaria, in which malaria parasites cause adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes by accumulating in the placenta. (IANS)

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Coronavirus Turns Patient’s Cells Into Virus Factories

When COVID-19 Attacks, Patient's Cells Turn into Virus Factories

corona virus
Having no equipment of its own, the virus commandeers the cell's machinery to make copies of its genetic code. Pixabay

By Steve Baragona

When the COVID-19 virus attacks, it turns the patient’s own cells into virus factories. This is the latest health and science research.

It starts at the surface of the cell, when the virus latches on to a protein that normally helps regulate the patient’s blood pressure. The cell unwittingly brings the virus inside, where the attacker unloads its cargo: instructions for making more virus.

Having no equipment of its own, the virus commandeers the cell’s machinery to make copies of its genetic code, manufacture more virus shells and deliver packaged germs to the cell surface, where they go on to infect more cells.  

Drugs already on pharmacists’ shelves act on various parts of that machinery. Though they may not be intended as antiviral drugs, in the scramble to treat the rising toll of COVID-19 infections, scientists are hoping that these existing drugs might offer some help.

corona virus
An employee of German biopharmaceutical company CureVac, demonstrates research workflow on a vaccine for the corona virus (COVID-19) disease at a laboratory in Tuebingen, Germany. VOA

“We don’t have the luxury of a five-year drug discovery program. We need the agents now,” said Warner Greene, a physician and researcher at the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology. 

The search has turned up some oddball candidates. Anti-cancer drugs, heart disease medications, a drug against schizophrenia and a treatment for Parkinson’s disease have all turned up as possibilities. Testing is already under way for chloroquine, an antimalarial drug.

Mysterious ways 

Despite all the science behind drug development, scientists often don’t know exactly how medications work.

“In a lot of cases, we don’t know all their mechanisms of action. Sometimes we actually find that there are effects that we didn’t recognize initially,” said University of Manitoba virologist Jason Kindrachuk.

These therapies also may prove useful because drugs frequently have multiple effects. Our cells often use the same machinery to do different jobs, Kindrachuk said, and a drug that acts on one part of the machinery may produce more than one result.

Sometimes the results are unwanted side effects. But sometimes they offer opportunities to treat entirely different conditions.

When bald men taking the blood pressure medication minoxidil grew hair, the drug was repurposed as the blockbuster hair-growth product Rogaine.

Viagra was originally developed to treat chest pains from heart disease. Its impacts on erectile dysfunction were an unexpected — and lucrative — surprise.

corona virus
Researchers at the Microbiology Research Facility work with coronavirus samples as a trial begins to see whether malaria treatment hydroxychloroquine can prevent or reduce the severity of the corona virus disease (COVID-19), at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota. VOA

Better together 

But a drug designed for something else may not work as well against a virus.

“I do think that we might find a drug that’s moderately effective, or several drugs that are moderately effective.” And then the question is, what if you put those two moderately effective drugs together? Can they synergize and can you get a very potent antiviral? That’s our plan,”  Greene said.

His group is screening thousands of drugs to see if they work against the virus in a test tube. He hopes to have results in two or three months. Several teams are pursuing similar strategies, using robots to run large numbers of tests at once.

Other scientists are working to unravel how the virus interacts with the different processes happening inside human cells, and looking for drugs that act on those processes.

Also Read- WhatsApp Experiences Greatest Gains Amid Lockdown

It’s very early-stage research. Any drug that looks good in these tests would need to be tested on animals, and then on small groups of people, to be sure it does not do more harm than good.

Greene cautions there is a long way to go.

“It’s a first step,” he said. “There’s lots of false leads there. But there are leads.” (VOA)