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Donation of blood to usher in co-existence: ‘Blood can circulate forever, if we keep donating it’

By Dilan Jayatillake

The donation of blood is one of the best ways to help others in need. It is a painless and hassle-free noble act that any healthy person can do. Moreover, fulfilling the critical need for blood is an act of kind-heartedness and revelation of humanity irrespective of race, religion and nationality anywhere in the world. The blood donation associated with an impulsion to serve another society within the same terrain also brings a sense of satisfaction.

Blood is a precious resource in healthcare in medical terms, especially at a point in time where the whole world has been engulfed in a pandemic. Children and older adults are the primary beneficiaries of blood donations. Therefore, the donor has to be healthy enough to donate his blood. A simple health check is required to make sure the donor is fit enough, because this is a voluntary act and healthcare authorities need to make sure that donating blood is not going to cause harm to either donor or receiver.

Personnel attached to the state defence, and law enforcement agencies in any country, are recognised to be healthier since their health conditions are reviewed periodically. Not only healthier, but also more likely to step forward and volunteer to donate their blood to those in poor health and need a transfusion of blood. The three-decade-long ruthless terror campaign led by the LTTE in Sri Lanka was a huge dilemma which ended 12 years ago. The battle wasn’t against any specified culture, either Sinhala or Tamil, but merely the destructive ideology of the terrorist’s leader, which led the country to a conflict which dragged on for 30 years.

The dawn of lasting peace brought all the devastated parts of the island to co-existence. The co-existence has spread its wings into all the races within the island and has reconciled the deep-rooted issue through a government-led mechanism. All the Sri Lankan communities are living in a mutual environment devoid of cultural differences as of now. Therefore, practicing the noble concept of “give” and “take” has been chosen as the best cause of action to reap the benefit of peace and to reconcile further.

Sri Lankan defence and law enforcement agencies are the pillars of bridging the gaps, if any. Accordingly, blood donation to those in need was brought to the forefront as a vital voluntary movement by the military and the Police whilst organising such events specifically covering the war-torn areas in the island. The defence and law enforcement agencies have envisioned how to brace the fight against the current pandemic through blood donation campaigns. Meanwhile, as reiterated by the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry Secretary, our military would never cease the nation-building process even amidst the pandemic.

The “new normal”, as said today, has ushered an unprecedented outlook to the entire world order by letting the public move with the pandemic. According to annals of the military medical staffers over the last six months, there were nearly 15 blood donation campaigns (as major events) organised by the law enforcement agencies in the North and East. These campaigns were organised by the military and the Police, and facilitated military and civil donors to donate their blood to save precious lives, irrespective of race, religion, and caste. All communities have been benefited, and have appraised this noble cause.

The military has experienced high demand, receiving requests from hospital authorities to organise such campaigns. Apart from the national security, nation development, and various contributions that have a positive impact to propel the country’s economy, the immense contribution broached by the tri-services for blood donation campaigns have saved many lives while fulfilling the blood requirement all the way through. Therefore, there wasn’t any critical shortage of blood observed.

The National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) is the decentralised unit which comes under the Health Ministry, and  also the sole supplier of blood and blood products to all state hospitals and some of the private hospitals which are registered under the Health Ministry for supply of blood and such products. According to NBTS sources, they collect more than 350,000 blood units annually from voluntary non-remunerated blood donors. Over 5,000 military and police personnel have donated their blood to date since March 2021, during the campaigns conducted in the island including the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

Accordingly, Sri Lanka Army (SLA) has covered over 10 districts in the island, including Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, and Trincomalee, with the contribution of over 2,000 blood donors. Similarly, a total of 1,600 from the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) have voluntarily contributed covering four regions including Vakarei in the Eastern Province. Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) records eight areas including Morawewa and Polonnaruwa with over 700 SLAF blood donors. In the same vein, over 180 policemen have donated their blood to the blood donation movement.

Amidst such noble healthcare drives, Sri Lanka Army manufactured “Automated Hand Disinfection Machines”, opened the largest Covid-19 Hospital in Seeduwa with SLA-produced 1200 beds, the “Thalassemia Infusion Systems” was produced by the SLN, and the low budget “Heated Humidified Oxygen Therapy Units” was invented by the SLAF, and they have immensely contributed to enhance the civil-military co-operation in the island covering North and East. No act is comparable to the recognition of the value of life, through blood donations, irrespective of caste, race and religion.

Excuses never save a life, but blood donation does.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of this publication.