Blood donation in India

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Blood donations in India are conducted by several organizations and hospitals by organizing blood donation camps. Donors can also visit blood banks in hospitals to donate blood or directly to a receiver. Despite shortage of donated blood, efforts by the government and various organizations have led to a decrease in the demand and supply gap over the years. The number of voluntary blood donors increased from 54.4% in 2006–2007 to 83.1% in 2011–2012, with the number of blood units increasing from 4.4 million units in 2006–2007 to 9.3 million units in 2012–2013.[1] In 2016, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare reported a donation of 10.9 million units against a requirement of 12 million units.[2]

Blood donors in India donate around 350 millilitres of blood.[3] After a donation, the donors are provided with refreshments, which usually include a glucose drink, biscuits and fruits. Some organizations offer transportation facilities, apart from providing certificates or badges as a gratitude.[4]

History of blood donation in India[edit]

The history of voluntary blood donation in India dates back to 1942 during the second world war, when blood donors were required to help the wounded soldiers. The first blood bank was established in Kolkata, West Bengal in March 1942 at the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health and was managed by the Red Cross. The donors were mostly government employees and people from the Anglo-Indian community who donated blood for a humanitarian cause. The number of voluntary donors declined after the war and donors had to be paid for the blood.[1][5] Leela Moolgaonkar, a social reformer, initiated voluntary blood donation camps in Mumbai from 1954. The 1960s saw many blood banks open in different cities. Under his stewardship in 1975, J. G. Jolly, the president of the Indian Society of Blood Transfusion and Immunohaematology declared 1 October as the National Voluntary Blood Donation Day, which has been observed throughout the country ever since.[6]

The HIV pandemic in the 1980s led to the government setting up the National AIDS Control Organisation in 1992 to oversee the policies in preventing the spread of AIDS. Subsequently, the National AIDS Control Programme was launched which led to drastic improvements in patient screening and hygienic transfusion procedures. A public interest litigation was filed in the Supreme court in 1996 to abolish the practice of selling blood which became effective on 1 January 1998.[5] Selling or donating blood in exchange of money is illegal under the National Blood Transfusion Services Act 2007 and those found convicted may face a prison sentence of up to three months with fine.[7]

Criteria to donate blood[edit]

There are several parameters that determine the eligibility of an individual to donate blood. Guidelines laid down by the Ministry of Health, Government of India have to be followed by blood banks and organizations conducting blood donation camps.[4][8]

  • Overall health- The donor must be fit and healthy, and should not be suffering from transmittable diseases.
  • Age and weight- The donor must be 18–65 years old and should weigh a minimum of 50 kg.
  • Pulse rate- Between 50 and 100 without irregularities.
  • Hemoglobin level- A minimum of 12.5 g/dL.
  • Blood pressure- Diastolic: 50–100 mm Hg, Systolic: 100–180 mm Hg.
  • Body temperature- Should be normal, with an oral temperature not exceeding 37.5 °C.
  • The time period between successive blood donations should be more than 3 months.

Individuals under certain conditions are deemed ineligible to donate blood:[8]

Regulatory mechanisms[edit]

Human blood is covered under the definition of drug under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. Blood bank activities are regulated under this act and they are required to obtain timely renewal of the license from Drug Controller General for operation and have to comply with the terms presented in the license. It specifies about accommodation, manpower, equipment, supplies and reagents, good manufacturing practices, and process control to be followed in Indian blood transfusion services.[9]

The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) was formed in 1992 following the outbreak of AIDS. Following a public interest litigation, a verdict by the supreme court in the case of Common Cause vs. the Union of India in January 1992 led to the establishment of National Blood Transfusion Council (NBTC) at the federal level and State Blood Transfusion Councils (SBTC) for all the states to review the status of blood transfusion services in the country and conduct annual monitoring visits to blood banks.[10] While the regulatory authority is entrusted with the task of drug regulation, NACO and NBTC are the main technical bodies that frame guidelines for the practice of transfusion medicine.

The Government of India in 2002 published the National Blood Policy (NBP) to reiterate the commitment to safe blood and blood components. It documents the strategies for making available adequate resources, technology and training for improving transfusion services apart from outlining methods for donor motivation and appropriate clinical use of blood by clinicians. It has also taken steps for research and development in transfusion medicine.[10]


India has several blood donation organizations, both governmental and non-governmental. Some major organizations operate in many regions throughout the country while other are regional and operate with local support. Along with conducting blood donation camps, these organizations also raise awareness on voluntary blood donation and public health. Most of the organizations have an online portal where donors can register their details and get updates when camps are organized. Some of the major organizations that conduct blood donation camps are enlisted below.

Rotary Blood Bank[edit]

The Rotary Blood Bank was founded in 2002 and is based in New Delhi. Part of the Rotary International, it is one of the largest blood donation organizations and operate camps throughout the country through their regional branches.

Indian Red Cross Society[edit]

The Indian Red Cross Society was established in 1920 and has 166 blood banks across the country.[11] It is based in New Delhi and actively conducts blood donation camps in many cities through the Indian Red Cross Blood Bank.

BloodConnect Foundation[edit]

BloodConnect was founded in 2010 by the students of IIT Delhi, and is now the largest youth run non profit in the field of blood donation in India. Spread across 20 cities, BloodConnect has a volunteer team in all premier colleges in the country including IIMs, IITs, DU, and PU. Along with running a 24*7 helpline, they organise blood donation camps and awareness sessions across the country.

Khoon Organization[edit]

Khoon Organization was established in 2016. Based in Bengaluru and operating across India, it is the first organization in the field of blood donation to have a running blood helpline service in the northeast of India.[12]

Sankalp India Foundation[edit]

Sankalp India Foundation was established in 2003. It is based in Bengaluru and operates blood donation camps in the state of Karnataka.[13]

Save Life India[edit]

A project under 'Volunteer for a Better India', Save Life India is an initiative of the Art Of Living foundation and is based in Margao, Goa. Initially started in Goa in 2014, the organization conducts blood donation camps in many states.[14]

Lions Blood Bank[edit]

A project by Lions Club, the Lions Blood Bank is based in Chennai and operates blood bank and camps in many cities.[15]

Think Foundation[edit]

The Think Foundation is based in Mumbai. It conducts blood donation camps and works for thalessemia patients & preventing thalessemia by conducting check-ups.[1]

Athar Blood Bank[edit]

Athar Blood Bank is an initiative by Athar Minorities Social and Welfare Association and is based in Solapur, Maharashtra. It was established in 2012 and conducts blood donation camps across the state.

Ekam Nyaas[edit]

The Ekam Nyaas is based in Ambala. It conducts blood donation camps and Emergency Blood donation

Other Blood Donor Networks[edit]

Apart from governmental and non-governmental organizations, major hospitals in the country have their own blood banks where blood donation is conducted within the facility. Organizations such as BloodConnect, Indian Blood Donors and Friends2support maintain a database of blood donors which facilitates a network between blood donors and organizations/hospitals.

Issues in blood donation[edit]

Despite a huge population, the demand-supply gap for blood units persists in many healthcare facilities in the country. According to a 2012 report by the World Health Organization, only 9 million blood units are available annually, whereas the demand is 12 million units.[16] Disparities in access of donors in different areas have led to wastage of blood stock in some parts of the country, while at the same time creating a shortage of blood in some other parts.[17] Due to substandard medical facilities and practices in many parts of the country, there have been cases of transmission of infective diseases like AIDS.[18] A study conducted between 2009 and 2013 concluded a high rate of non-compliance on the part of blood banks on the quality and safety of transfusion services.[19] Voluntary blood donation comprises about 70% of the blood demand, with the rest coming from replacement donors, whereas 62 nations in the world fulfill their blood demands through voluntary donations.[20][21] A study conducted in 2011 reports that a mere 6% of women donate blood, mostly due to physiological problems and low hemoglobin count.[22] Other hurdles in increasing voluntary blood donation include the fear of pain and weakness after the procedure, and illiteracy.[23]

Forced donation[edit]

Documented instances of forced blood extraction have occurred in India, among other countries, owing to its disproportionate ratio of available supply of blood and high poverty rate. One such ring gained national attention in 2008 when an emaciated man escaped from his captors near the city of Gorakhpur, in Uttar Pradesh.[24][25]

Blood donation camp in New Delhi

Initiatives to encourage blood donation[edit]

October 1 is celebrated as the national voluntary blood donation day.[11] Blood donation agencies often organize workshops to educate people about the benefits of donating blood.[26] With a huge population of youth, blood donation camps are regularly organized by hospitals and organizations at college campuses.[27][28] Blood donors and their family members are often given priority in case of emergency or accidents. In 2016, the government launched an initiative called E-RaktKosh, a web-based mechanism that integrates all blood banks in the state into a single network, providing information about blood camps and the availability of blood in hospitals throughout the country.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Marwaha, N (2015). "Voluntary blood donation in India: Achievements, expectations and challenges". Asian Journal of Transfusion Science. 9 (Suppl 1): S1–S2. doi:10.4103/0973-6247.157011. PMC 4455102. PMID 26097329.
  2. ^ "Lok Sabha unstarred question no 2282 to be answered on 29th July, 2016" (PDF). Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  3. ^ Bhasin, Rama (27 March 2004). "How many units of blood can a healthy person donate at a time?". The Times of India. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Voluntary blood donation program: an operational guideline" (PDF). NACO. Ministry of Health, Government of India.
  5. ^ a b "National Guidebook on Blood Donor Motivation" (PDF). Government of India.
  6. ^ Mittal, Kshitija; Kaur, Ravneet (January–June 2014). "Dr. J. G. Jolly Emeritus Professor, Department of Transfusion Medicine, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh". Asian Journal of Transfusion Science. 8 (1): 1. PMC 3943136.
  7. ^ Sinha, Kounteya (28 November 2007). "Professional blood donors may soon be jailed". The Times of India. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  8. ^ a b "Donor Guidelines".
  9. ^ Choudhury, Nabajyoti; Desai, Priti (June 2012). "Blood bank regulations in India". Clinics in Laboratory Medicine. 32 (2): 293–299. doi:10.1016/j.cll.2012.04.002. PMID 22727006.
  10. ^ a b Chandrashekar, Shivaram; Kantharaj, Ambuja (2014). "Legal and ethical issues in safe blood transfusion". Indian Journal of Anaesthesia. 58 (5): 558–564. doi:10.4103/0019-5049.144654. PMC 4260301. PMID 25535417.
  11. ^ a b "National Voluntary Blood Donation Day".
  12. ^ Maheshwari, Punita (20 January 2017). "Death goes in vein:16 year old starts a blood bank". Bangalore Mirror. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  13. ^ Suraksha, P. (16 October 2017). "Bengaluru-based NGO supplies rare blood to Turkey, Sri Lanka". The New India Express. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  14. ^ "Save Life India got featured in Seva Times August". 20 September 2016.
  15. ^ "Lions blood bank marks silver jubilee". The Hindu. 3 July 2009. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  16. ^ "India facing a blood shortage of 3 million units". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 22 August 2015. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  17. ^ Grocchetti, Silvio (3 September 2016). "Acute shortage: Why India needs 35 tankers of blood". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  18. ^ Krishnan, Vidya (31 May 2016). "Bad blood: 2,234 get HIV after transfusion". The Hindu. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  19. ^ Agarwal, RK; Dhanya, R; Parmar, LG; Vaish, A; Sedai, A; Periyavan, S (2015). "A study of the noncompliance of blood banks on safety and quality parameters in blood donation camps in Bengaluru". Asian Journal of Transfusion Science. 9 (1): 23–28. doi:10.4103/0973-6247.150942. PMC 4339926. PMID 25722568.
  20. ^ Prasad, R. (14 June 2016). "Voluntary donation, safe blood". The Hindu. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  21. ^ "World Blood Donor Day 2016: Blood connects us all". World Health Organization.
  22. ^ Chakrabarty, Ankita (14 June 2012). "India faces huge blood donation deficit". Zee News. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  23. ^ Aggarwal, Sourabh; Sharma, Vishal (13 February 2012). "Attitudes and problems related to voluntary blood donation in India: A short communication". Annals of Tropical Medicine and Public Health. 5 (1): 50–52.
  24. ^ "Gang of blood suppliers unearthed in Gorakhpur". The Times of India. 16 March 2008. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  25. ^ Carney, Scott (6 June 2011). "Book Excerpt: Exposing India's Blood Farmers". WIRED. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  26. ^ "Over 300 join in blood donation awareness programme in Delhi". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 27 September 2016. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  27. ^ "Maharaja's College students hold blood donation camp". The Hindu. 6 October 2016. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  28. ^ Pinto, Stanley (1 December 2014). "HDFC Bank's 'Blood Donation Drive' on December 5". The Times of India. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  29. ^ "Now, a website for blood banks; 117 banks listed". The Economic Times. 12 August 2017. Retrieved 11 November 2017 – via The Times of India.