by Dileep V Kumar/ Thiruvananthapuram
Billed to be first in the country’s higher education sector, a university in Kerala has introduced the concept of ‘leave for blood donation’ for its students.
A historic decision in this regard has been taken by the University of Kerala (KU) as it allows students to donate blood without losing his/her class attendance.
“From now onwards, a student could avail a day’s leave for blood donation. Instead of counting it as ‘absent’, the University has directed the colleges under it to consider the same as ‘present.’ A student is entitled to take this ‘leave for blood donation’ once in three months,” said an official of the University of Kerala.
At the same time, the official also added that the ‘leave for blood donation’ is subject to the approval of the principal of the institution concerned.
“To avail this special leave, a student upon blood donation should produce a valid certificate from the health institution concerned. This certificate will be examined by the principal and if satisfied the said leave will be granted,” added the official.
It was the Kerala University Union that first pitched the idea of ‘leave for blood donation’ for students. In a representation handed over to University Registrar KS Anilkumar on January 17, the union highlighted the plight faced by the students connected with blood donation.
Said Naseem M, general secretary, of Kerala University Union, “We received a lot of complaints from students as some colleges didn’t allow or accept leave for blood donation. Thus, we decided to approach the University.”
“We are happy with the said decision. It might encourage the campuses to come forward without any doubt to donate blood,” added him.
It is learned that the representation from the Union was presented before the University Syndicate which then asked the student services standing committee to study the same and submit a report.
Considering the findings of this standing committee, the Syndicate meeting on June 9 gave its approval for the ‘leave for blood donation’.
Said Sandeep Lal S, a student member of KU Syndicate, “It was first decided to grant a half-days leave. But it was decided to extend full-day. We believe the decision will enhance blood donation from the campuses, which have witnessed a fall, especially after Covid-19.”
One of the first 16 Universities in India, the University of Kerala was founded as Travancore University in 1937 by Maharaja, Sri Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma. Under KU, there are around 400 institutions, and in it were studying around 1.50 lakh students.
‘A Model Worth Emulating’
According to an official of Kerala State Aids Control Society’s (KSACS) Blood Transfusion Services, if the model set by the KU is followed by other universities in the state a quantum leap will happen in the voluntary blood donation sector.
“The idea of ‘leave for blood donation’ will have a positive effect on our campuses. It is expected that it will instill responsibility and a sense of pride among youngsters as they play an indispensable role in saving a life. Thus, participation of students will enhance,” said the official.
As per data from KSACS, in the state, only 75 percent were engaged in voluntary blood donation. The data, prepared after analyzing the trend in 2022-23, said that out of 4,40,457 people engaged in voluntary blood donation, only 21,860 were women.
“Female ratio at our campuses is high. But when it comes to blood donation it is not that satisfactory. Once the campuses understand the value of blood donation, a marked change is certain,” added the official.
Any healthy adult, both male, and female, can donate blood. Men can donate safely once every three months while women can donate every four months.
There are several types of blood donation and each type helps meet different medical needs.
The most popular one is whole blood donation where you donate about a pint (about half a liter) of whole blood. The blood is then separated into its components — red cells, plasma, and sometimes platelets.
Next comes apheresis, where you are hooked up to a machine that collects and separates different parts of your blood. These blood components include red cells, plasma, and platelets. The machine then returns the remaining parts of the blood to you.
Apheresis comprises platelet donation (plateletpheresis), double red cell donation (donating a concentrated amount of red blood cells), and plasma donation (plasmapheresis).
According to the National Blood Transfusion Council, a donor should be in the age group of 18 to 65 years and should not be less than 45 kilograms.
It also stipulates that a donor should ensure that he/she is not been treated for malaria in last three months or three years if residing in endemic areas, should not have had tattoo/acupuncture in last 12 months, should not have any forms of cancer, should not have Hepatitis B, C, Tuberculosis, Leprosy, HIV, any heart diseases, Epilepsy, Asthma on Steroids, Bleeding disorders, Thalassemia, Sickle Cell Anaemia, Polycythaemia Vera, and others.
It further warns that certain medications may pose a risk to the donor or recipient, and if one is taking them, one will not be able to give blood.
This year, World Blood Donor Day is being observed with the slogan “Give blood, give plasma, share life, share often” which focuses on patients requiring life-long transfusion support and underlines the role every single person can play, by giving the valuable gift of blood or plasma.