It took a while for the rains to hit Kolkata this monsoon. But no sooner had it started pouring than the number of dengue cases in the city increased rapidly. Stray dengue cases began to surface from end-June and, towards the end of July, the city witnessed a sudden spurt in the number of vector-borne diseases.
As reported by government officials, the city has recorded 300 dengue cases till date and Behala, the south-west Kolkata locality has been the worst sufferer. With the onset of sporadic rain, there comes a pressing need to raise awareness about mosquito control measures as stagnant water leads to breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Meanwhile, India’s first Platelet Donor Helpline ‘7878782020’ has proven to be a blessing for dengue patients. The Platelet Donor Helpline is an initiative by Godrej HIT and supported by the Apollo Hospitals Group. Launched in 2017, the helpline aims at building a platelet donor base to save lives.
Why platelets are needed
Dengue patients face a drop in their blood platelet count, leading to internal bleeding and, finally, death in extreme cases. Thus, this fall in platelet count requires quick platelet transfusion to save lives. However, platelets are not readily available because they cannot be stored for more than five days.
Platelets are extracted from a donor through a process called apheresis, which allows extraction of large amounts of platelets from a single donor. The procedure is safe and one can return to normal activities soon. In fact, the body replaces the platelet count back to normal within 24 hours.
125,000 donor base
While Kolkata is coping with the dengue menace, the Platelet Donor Helpline has 1.25 lakh donors who are just a call away. In addition to Kolkata, the helpline is also present in such cities as Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai and Ahmedabad and has successfully saved the lives of many critical dengue patients.
In Kolkata, dengue patients, or their relatives, seeking platelets can call on the HIT Platelet Helpline ‘7878782020’. Upon receiving a request, registered donors are updated through calls and SMSes. Platelet donors visit the patient directly at the hospital where he or she is admitted, or the platelets are sent to the patient. They can also avail of platelet transfusion at their nearest Apollo Hospital, the medical partner for the helpline, even if they are not admitted there. People can register themselves as platelet donors by logging on to www.godrejhit.com/trackthebite.
94% citizens unaware of critical level of platelet count
A survey conducted by Godrej HIT found 94% citizens are unaware of the critical level of platelet count, below which platelet transfusion is required in dengue cases. Unlike blood, platelets cannot be stored for more than five days. The report added that 80% of the citizens were unaware of this fact. Due to the short shelf life of platelets, there is a high demand for donors.
As part of the donor community, Godrej HIT wanted to educate the masses on platelet donation procedures and the threats posed by loss of platelets in dengue cases. Over the past year, an awareness programme conducted by Godrej HIT has reached out to over 5 million citizens across India.
‘Bringing patients & donors together’
‘The Platelet Donor Helpline is a unique platform in India, bringing donors and dengue patients together to help each other crowdsource platelets. It helps patients get platelets, which cannot be stored. We’re happy to see that, over the past year, more than 1 lakh people have registered as platelet donors, resulting in eight lives being saved. Although this is a good start, we consider it our responsibility to create mass awareness about how platelets are crucial to dengue patients and encourage more platelet donations. We’re grateful to the 1.25 lakh registered donors for being part of our mission to fight dengue and save lives. We urge Kolkata residents to register as platelet donors on www.godrejhit.com/trackthebite, or by calling on ‘7878782020’ and help save lives of critical dengue patients’
— Sunil Kataria, CEO-India & SAARC, Godrej Consumer Products Ltd
‘Apollo-Godrej HIT tie-up to build donor community.’
‘Vector-borne diseases, such as dengue, are emerging as a threat to public health in India. To address this issue, we, at Apollo Hospitals, have tied up with Godrej HIT to build a platelet donor community. Through this initiative, we’re trying to bridge the gap in awareness and provide ready resources to manage such diseases as dengue’
— Sangita Reddy, Joint MD, Apollo Hospitals Group