Apurva Jagtap is a 25-year-old professional architect in Mumbai. In spite of having a strong will to donate blood, she hasn’t been able to do it.
“I have been trying to donate blood since my college days but I couldn’t do it. Whenever I visited a blood donation camp I was not accepted as a donor,”Apurva told My Medical Mantra.
The same thing has been experienced by several other women who approach blood banks or blood donation camps as a potential blood donor.
The main reason for women being rejected as blood donors is due to anaemia. It is a chronic problem among several women. According to the Global Nutrition Report 2016, nearly 48 per cent of Indian women are anaemic. India ranks at 170th place among 185 countries in terms of prevalence of anaemia in women.
Iron-deficiency anaemia is the most common form of anaemia. It is caused by low levels of haemoglobin in the blood.
This iron deficiency has been preventing many women from donating blood. “When I went to donate blood, my haemoglobin was below the required level. So, I couldn’t donate it,” said Apurva.
“For donating blood, women should have minimum haemoglobin count of 12 g/dl (grams per decilitre) and should weigh at around 50 kg. But most of the times their haemoglobin level is very low. Also, mostly they are underweight too. This is reason why they don’t become an eligible blood donor,” said Ganesh Amdoskar, founder of Jivandata, which is an organisation that frequently organises blood donation camps in Mumbai.
According to the experts, the main reason behind low level of haemoglobin in women is due to insufficient dietary intake of iron.
“In our society, we see two contradictory reasons behind the cause of anaemia in women. A section of women can’t afford sufficient nutritional food. On other hand, women from well-established families are figure conscious and don’t eat properly. Other reasons can be excessive bleeding during menstruation and absence of deworming,” said Dr Rajalaxmi Walavalkar, consultant gynaecologist and IVF specialist, Cocoon Fertility.
A properly planned and focused awareness campaign can help in increasing the haemoglobin levels in women.
An initiative undertaken by Kavita Marolkar who works with Sant Gadgebaba Blood Bank based in Amravati district (Maharashtra) proved this.
“We created a WhatsApp group of almost 100 women, three months prior to conduct a blood donation camp only for women. Through this WhatsApp group, we spread awareness about having a balanced diet. We also did counselling to make mentally prepare them for blood donation. As a result on the day of the camp, 35 women could donate blood,” said Kavita Marolkar.
What are the symptoms of anaemia?
- Lack of energy
- Shortness of breath
- An altered sense of taste
- Pica – a desire to eat non-food items such as ice-paper or clay
- A sore tongue
- Feeling itchy
- Hair loss
How can it be tackled?
- Take iron tests regularly
- Eat dark green leafy vegetables, iron-fortified cereals, whole grains such as brown rice, beans, nuts, meat
- In case of excessive bleeding during menstruation visit gynaecologist
- For further treatment, one should consult their doctor