Mumbai: Mumbai Ultra in association with Tata Memorial Centre (TMC) announced a massive blood collection drive on August 15 at Shivaji Park in Mumbai to ensure the blood banks in the hospital maintain necessary stock and the patients get the necessary units during their treatment in the hospital.
Mumbai Ultra Marathon runners have partnered with TMC to start this unique drive where the motto is “If we cannot, let our blood run” – an attempt to turn the current challenging times into an opportunity. Each year, the runners organize a marathon on 15th August and dedicate it to the treatment of children with cancer in TMC. This year, due to the prevailing restrictions, but to continue their noble efforts, Mumbai Ultra Runners have decided to organize a Blood Donation Camp on 15th August at Veer Sawarkar Bhavan, Dadar, Mumbai. Tata Memorial Centre is the largest tertiary cancer institute in the country and each year more than 70,000 new cancer patients come to TMC for diagnosis, treatment, and advice.
Mr. Milind Soman, Event Ambassador said, “This is a ground-breaking event. The decision to help people by donating blood is outstanding especially during the COVID 19 pandemic which is remarkable in itself. A lot of runners who would have participated in this year’s event have come forward to support this wonderful cause. The runners will inspire non-runners. Everyone who is healthy can donate blood. This year, Mumbai Ultra is not about running but making a difference in whatever way possible. We know everyone is capable of donating blood and the need for it is endless.”
One of the most important components of care is a continuous source of Blood and Blood products, which can neither be manufactured in factories nor created in laboratories, and can only come from healthy volunteer donors. While the lockdown has applied brakes on activities across the world, unfortunately, the treatment of cancer has to continue sans interruption. Due to the pandemic, the organisers and the hospital staff are taking extreme care and installing strict hygienic measures to encourage good Samaritans to do their bit for a noble cause.
Utmost care and precaution, including but not limited to, avoiding crowding, maintaining social distancing, planning appointment to space out donations throughout the day, adequate sanitizations, enforcement of protective gear, etc., would be in place.
Prof. Sunil Rajadhyaksha, Head, Department of Transfusion Medicine, TMC, said, “Blood stocks started depleting soon after the commencement of lockdown. Donors had misplaced fears about contracting COVID infection if they were to visit the hospital blood bank for donation. Mumbai Blood banks have very low inventory. Residential complexes should come forward and organise camps in their societies as utmost care is taken for the safety of donors. The campsite is sanitized and social distancing is ensured. Adequate precautions, such as couch sanitization or use of disposable sheets, are taken and there is, therefore, no chance of contracting this infection at camps. The Independence Day camp will also kickstart the movement for more regular camps.”
Dr. C.S. Pramesh Director, Tata Memorial Centre, “Cancer is curable but only if treated optimally, and every treatment modality of cancer requires extensive supportive care, most important being blood and blood products. Since early March 2020, as the pandemic situation was emerging, we – at TMH, consciously decided to continue treatment of cancer along with COVID, because neglecting cancer treatment could have disastrous long-term implications. Due to the lockdown and perhaps more due to the fear in the minds of society, we saw a drastic fall in the number of voluntary donors coming for blood donations. There came a time when TMH staff was the only sustainable source of donors left. In this situation, it is a great relief to us that Mumbai Ultra has decided to contribute their might to blood and platelet donation and help us in this extreme crisis. From this city of 20 million Mumbaikars, we seek just a few good Samaritans to save our patients.”
Dr. Girish Chinnaswammy, Professor and Head, Pediatric Oncology, TMC, said, “More than 80 percent of patients coming to TMH hail from outside the city and state. They depend on us – you and me and the society, to help them in their time of dire need. Travel restrictions due to COVID have given rise to an unprecedented shortage of blood for our patients. Organizing camps like the one on August 15, 2020, with the help of Mumbai Ultra, is the only way forward for us to continue serving our patients. Less than one percent of the eligible population in India today donate blood. If through the spread of awareness and increasing societal participation, through such camps, this number can be increased to just two percent, the entire country’s problem will be solved. The difference between one and two may seem small but that is all we seek.”