Donate your Blood and Make a Difference

World blood donor day is celebrated every year by  many countries around the world on June 14th. This day is the birth anniversary of Karl Landsteiner  (June 14, 1868) the great scientist who won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of ABO blood group system. The world blood donor day was officially established by the WHO with its 192 member States in the month of May 2005 at the 58 th World Health Assembly in order to motivate all the countries worldwide to thank blood donors for their precious step and thereby promote voluntary, safe and unpaid blood donation to ensure the sufficient blood supplies. The slogan for the World Blood Donor Day 2019 is “Safe blood for all”.

Why blood donor day is important? 
Blood saves life. Before blood transfusion became a regular medical practice, lives were regularly lost due to blood and bone marrow diseases, victims of trauma , emergencies disasters and accidents. Patients undergoing surgical procedures and bleeding associated with pregnancy and childbirth are major consumers of blood and blood products. There is always a need for more blood donation. Someone needs blood every two seconds. Inadequacy of safe blood supply is a global issue. Finding volunteers and making sure the blood is safe is still is a big issue in developing countries . Annually India requires 8 million units of blood, but only 5 million units are collected. In spite of rapid and remarkable developments in Medical Sciences today, it is still not yet possible to manufacture blood. Hence donation is the only way to collect blood and help fellow human beings. The theme for this years campaign is blood donation and universal access to safe blood as a component of achieving universal health coverage. 

The main objectives of celebrating this day is

  1. To increase awareness among the public on voluntary blood donation.
  2. To achieve 100% voluntary donation and maintain enough blood stocks.
  3. To inspire others to start donating.
  4. To give thanks to regular blood donors and  acknowledge the crucial role that voluntary donation play in achieving the goal of universal health coverage.

The day and theme is also a call to action to all Governments, National Health Authorities and blood services to provide adequate resources and put in place systems and infrastructure to increase collection of blood from voluntary unpaid blood donors and to promote and implement appropriate clinical use of blood.

Why voluntary blood donation?
Patients in need of blood have the right to receive it and shall not be conditioned to supplying donors. Hospitals have an obligation and responsibility to meet the transfusion needs of their patients unconditionally. Hence it should come from voluntary donors. Regular repeat blood donors ensure safety to the recipients.

How to motivate the youth for blood donation and convert them into regular donors?
One of the greatest challenges, given the demographic reality of an aging population, is ensuring the next generation of blood donors needed to maintain safe and adequate blood supply. Therefore we must prepare the next generation. Younger population can make an important contribution by donating blood and guiding other young people to become donors.The principle of donor motivation is to make the voluntary donor feel important and needed. There should be a planned program to create awareness among the general public  as to ensure a regular supply of good quality blood. The educational program should therefore be so designed that the community understands in depth the need for blood. Effective donor education, motivation, and recruitment strategy will help to recruit new voluntary non remunerated blood donors. Blood donors should be treated as a valuable resource and they deserve courtesy and recognition. Donors should constantly be made to feel good about belonging to a select group of people.

Are the blood donors benefited in anyway? 
Incentives should not influence people’s decision to donate blood and compromise the safety of the blood supply. An attractive incentive will tempt an unsafe donor to donate blood without revealing his health problems. The younger population is in a better position to donate blood as their vitality is high. Getting them involved in such a humane activity will automatically set the right trend and spread the message of brotherhood. These endeavors will also educate them about being healthy to donate blood thereby helping them to stay fit at all times. This would probably keep a member of our youth away from drugs, alcohol, smoking or sexually transmitted  diseases because every time they want to donate blood, it would be tested for a whole lot of diseases. They would find it very embarrassing to be turned away in front of their friends. Thus a health revolution can be triggered if we empower the youth.

Written By
Dr.Sathyabhama S
MBBS(1979) PGDGM.  
Scientist G
Department of Transfusion Medicine
Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology
Thiruvananthapuram.