Thursday 14th June sees World Blood Donor day, organised each year since 2004 by the World Health Organization (WHO). We last blogged about World Blood Donor Day back in 2015, and we think this awareness day is so important to highlight. The universal nature of this day reflects the universal need for blood, for all countries and many diseases or injuries. Each year, a different host country is given the responsibility of running the campaign and event on the 14th June, to help emphasise this global endeavour. This year, it is the turn of Greece, who have chosen the following slogan to accompany their campaign: “Be there for someone else. Give blood. Share life.”
Be there for someone else. Give blood. Share life.
The campaign is highlighting that every few seconds someone, somewhere, needs blood. This is the promotional video to accompany the campaign:
Voluntary, regular donations are the only way to ensure a constant and sufficient supply of blood for health systems around the world. These donations are then used in transfusions that help save millions of lives every year, and one blood donation can actually save up to 3 people’s lives, so when you donate, you really are sharing the gift of life. Blood donation is a selfless act that takes a small amount of time, but can have an enormous impact on someone else’s life.
Can I donate blood?
There are some rules for giving blood, and they can differ from country to country slightly, although they all tend to follow the guidelines outlined by WHO. In the UK and US, the following general conditions are given:
- You are fit and healthy
- You weigh between 50kg and 160kg
- You are aged between 17 and 66 (or 70 if you have given blood before)
- You are aged over 70 but have given blood within the last 2 years
- You have not given blood in the last 12 weeks (male) or 16 weeks (female)
- You have not had a blood transfusion yourself after 1980
- You must be in good general health and feeling well
- You at least 17 years old in most states (16 years old with parental consent in some states)
- You weigh at least 110 lbs
- You have not donated blood in the last 56 days
There are also some conditions that may mean you have to defer your blood donation, but should be able to after some time. These are conditions such as travelling to certain countries, having just given birth, and the levels of hemoglobin in your blood. These criteria are assessed when you go to give blood, and are explained to you at the time. You can also see a list of all eligibility criteria on the American Red Cross website or the Give Blood website in the UK.
Towards 100% voluntary blood donation
There is an ongoing campaign and framework for action from WHO to establish 100% voluntary donation globally. At the moment, 57 countries only use blood collected by voluntary donors. 74 countries are at 90%, while 71 countries sadly only collect 50% or less of their blood from voluntary donors. The rest of their blood is either collected by paid donors, or a family member of a patient needing a donation is required to replace stocks before the patient can be given a donation. Both these kind of donations have been found to be significantly less safe on average, as they have a higher rate of bloodborne infections. Furthermore, many countries agree that the family replacement method places pressure on families and exploits their vulnerable position. WHO, in association with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, created a framework to help countries achieve 100% voluntary blood donation, and World Blood Donor Day is also an important part of the strategy. Encouraging blood donation campaigns and raising awareness of voluntary donation is key to achieving 100% voluntary donation in every country in the world.
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