With the slogan ‘Give the gift of life: donate blood’, this year’s campaign on the 10th anniversary of World Blood Donor Day will focus on the value of donated blood to the patient, not only in saving life but also in helping people to live longer and have more productive lives.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a single unit of donated blood can save up to three lives.
About 92 million blood donations are collected world-wide every year. Approximately half of these blood donations are collected in high-income countries, home to only 15% of the world’s population. In these high-income countries, transfusion is most commonly used for supportive care in heart surgery, transplant surgery, massive trauma and cancer therapy. In low-and middle-income countries, the greatest use of donated blood is for complications of pregnancy and severe childhood anemia.
Many patients requiring transfusion, particularly in developing countries, do not have timely access to safe blood. Providing safe and adequate blood through well-organized, national blood systems should be an integral part of each country’s national health-care policy. WHO’s goal is for all countries to obtain all their blood supplies from 100% voluntary unpaid donors by 2020. Blood collection from voluntary unpaid blood donors is the cornerstone of a safe and sufficient blood supply. Regular voluntary blood donors are the safest source of blood, as there are fewer blood-borne infections among these donors than among people who donate for family members in emergencies or who give blood for payment.
WHO provides policy guidance and technical assistance to support countries to ensure that safe blood and blood products are available and used appropriately for all people who need them.
14 June: World Blood Donor Day
World Blood Donor Day is celebrated each year on 14 June to raise awareness of the importance of blood donation and to recognize the contribution of voluntary unpaid blood donors to saving lives and improving health.
World Blood Donor Day was established by the International Federation of Blood Donor Organizations, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the International Society of Blood Transfusion.
14 June was chosen because it is the birthday of Karl Landsteiner (1868–1943), an Austrian biologist and physician who is considered to be the ‘founder’ of modern blood transfusion. Landsteiner discovered the ABO blood groups in 1901, developed the modern system of classification of blood groups, and in 1937 identified, together with Alexander S. Wiener, the Rhesus factor, thus enabling physicians to transfuse blood without endangering the patient’s life.
The contribution of SKAE
The Hellenic Co-ordinating Hemovigilance Center (SKAE) will participate in the celebration, in order to honor the anonymous volunteer blood donor. It invites every healthy man and woman aged 18-65 years old to give blood at any blood service clinic in the country.
Young people have a central role to play in this invitation for life, by taking the lead in recruitment activities targeted towards new donors and developing a team spirit amongst their friends and colleagues in school, college and sports and other clubs.
The best blood donors are dedicated young people with a feeling of solidarity and a desire to bring assistance without discrimination to anybody who is in need of blood transfusion, thus protecting life and health and also ensuring respect for fellow human beings.
Constantina Politis, Associate Professor of Medicine, Athens University,
Head of SKAE, Scientific Advisor to HCDCP