In Pakistan, the transfusion services are being provided by the public, private and NGO/BDO sector blood banks. Majority of these services are hospital based. Despite all the partners working in isolation, the Blood Donor Organizations (BDOs) are an integral component of the blood transfusion system. Over the years these BDOs have emerged as the public system had limited capacity to provide services. The BDOs are mostly university based voluntary organizations and managed by the students. They collect blood from voluntary donors, usually fellow students, and supply the donated blood to supply to blood banks of their own choice. Some of these BDOs are also running thalassaemia care and community health programmes. These organizations play a significant role in providing blood to the deserving and poor patients free of cost.
As in the rest of the country, the blood banks in Islamabad also rely on the Replacement Donors for blood donations. Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) has the largest blood bank in Islamabad: collects up to 135 donations per day and caters to PIMS patients and other hospital patients also. PIMS BB provides blood components to its Thalassaemia patients without replacements, about 30-35 transfusions per day.
Almost all Islamabad Universities have BDOs which make valuable blood donation contributions. But the efforts of these University BDOs are uncoordinated, they work in isolation, lack expert guidance and their true potential remains unrealized. As a result of the disjointed efforts of the stakeholders, the transfusion system in Islamabad, as in the rest of the country, still remains dependant on Replacement Donors.
Recognizing the important role of BDOs, the Safe Blood Transfusion Programme (SBTP) initiated the networking of BDOs to share experience, learn from each other and jointly participate in the development of the blood transfusion sector. This milestone was achieved on January 22, 2014 with the establishment of Islamabad BDO Network. The network has been created with the aim of interchanging experience and best practices, while on the other hand being open to policy advice from the SBT Programme and joint strategies and actions for the promotion of blood donation and the advancement of blood safety. This will generate a common platform for better access to the community. The national strategy for blood donation endeavors to mobilize and convert the suitable and eligible replacement donors into regular non-remunerated blood donors, in addition to sensitizing the youth, especially the university students, to become regular voluntary donors. The small voluntary donor base in Pakistan is mainly made up of donors who are mobilized by various BDOs. The SBT Programmes monthly e-newsletter has also initiated a BDO corner which includes news related to the activities of Blood Donor Organizations.