All smiles: The growing community of women blood donors in the UAE. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A group of women in the UAE is leading by example and inspiring more women to donate blood.

The volunteers, who are part of the non-profit Blood Donors Kerala (BDK) - UAE and the Women’s Happiness and Social Welfare Group, told Gulf News that many more women were now joining their mission to help those in need of blood after taking inspiration from some regular donors in their midst.

Archana Sasidharan, a volunteer with BDK who donates blood every 57 days, said it has become a way of life for her.

Archana Sasidharan at a blood donation camp. Image Credit: Supplied

“We have a separate ladies wing with around 30 active volunteers. Our aim is to motivate other women like us to step in when there is a requirement,” said the 33 year old who has been in Dubai for seven years.

Sunitha, BDK coordinator in Abu Dhabi, said besides meeting the critical requirements of patients, blood donation helps donors to improve their health. “By donating blood regularly, I know that my own blood circulation improves and I am at lesser risk of an arterial blockage,” she noted.

Sense of purpose

Sheeba Nazar, another volunteer from WHS, said, “We started out as a travel group, but somewhere along the line we were inspired to join the crucial cause of blood donation. The practice of blood donation not only helps those in critical need of it, but also provides physical and mental benefits to the donor. It gives them a sense of purpose and emotional well-being, besides enabling them to reduce stress.”

A regular donor now, Nazar said just like how travel can be uplifting and changes people’s lives, blood donation too has a huge impact on how people think and act. “It is something everyone who is eligible must consider doing and we encourage our family members also to become donors if they qualify.”

Eligibility criteria

The eligibility criteria for blood donation have been clearly laid out by the authorities, she said. Besides being a UAE resident with required documentation (Emirates ID), donors must fulfill many other requirements in terms of their health condition. “Those with a history of certain diseases, cosmetic procedures or intake may not be eligible immediately. Pregnant women and lactating women also cannot donate,” explained Sasidharan.

There are restrictions with regard to travel history as well. According to the Dubai Blood Donation Centre, donors having a travel history have to defer their donation by seven days after arrival in the UAE. Donors with a travel history to malaria endemic countries have to put it off by a month.

Regular donors say they fully abide by the requirements and sometimes, even volunteer to donate blood in their home country if they are travelling there for vacation.