“Anybody can donate blood, everyone can save lives”. Today is World Blood Donor Day. It’s an initiative by the World Health Organization (WHO). Every year, this day is commemorated on June 14 with the aim to raise global awareness of the need for safe blood and its byproducts for transfusion and of the critical contribution voluntary, unpaid blood donors make to national health systems.
This day brings the national health authorities and governments together to provide adequate resources and put into place infrastructures and systems to increase the collection of blood from voluntary, and non-remunerated blood donors.
Blood shortages are particularly acute in developing countries. The need for blood is universal, but access to blood for all those who need it is not. Safe blood and its byproducts and their transfusion are a critical aspect of care and public health. Donating blood saves millions of lives and improves the health and quality of life of many patients every day.
All countries need voluntary, unpaid donors who give blood regularly, to ensure that everyone who needs blood has access to it. During the Covid-19 pandemic, despite limited mobility and other challenges, blood donors in many countries have continued to donate plasma and blood to patients who needed transfusion.
This effort during a time of unprecedented crisis notifies the crucial role of well-organised, committed voluntary, and non-remunerated blood donors in ensuring a safe and sufficient blood supply during emergency and normal times.
For 2021, the World Blood Donor Day slogan is -- “Give blood and keep the world beating."
It highlights the importance of the global call for more people all over the world to donate blood regularly and contribute to better health. It focuses on the essential contribution blood donors make to keeping the world pulsating by saving lives and improving others’ health.
A special focus of this year’s campaign will be the role of youngsters in ensuring a safe blood supply. In many countries, young people have been at the forefront of activities and initiatives aimed at achieving safe blood supplies through voluntary and non-remunerated blood donations.
Young people form a large sector of the population in many societies who are generally full of enthusiasm, idealism and creativity, have donated blood.
Italy will host World Blood Donor Day 2021 through its National Blood Centre. The global event will be held in Rome on June 14, 2021.
The objectives of this year’s campaign include thanking blood donors in the world and creating wider public awareness of the need for regular, unpaid blood donation; it also aims to promote the community values of blood donation in enhancing community solidarity and to generate social cohesion. It focuses to encourage youth to embrace the humanitarian call to donate blood and inspire others to do the same.
Here’s what you need to know about blood donation:
There are 4 main blood groups (types of blood) – A, B, AB and O. Your blood group is determined by the genes you inherit from your parents. Each group can be either RhD positive or RhD negative, which means in total there are 8 blood groups.
The transfusable components that can be derived from donated blood are red cells, platelets, plasma, cryoprecipitated AHF (cryo), and granulocytes. An additional component, white cells, is often removed from donated blood before transfusion.
How can one donation help multiple people?
In modern medical treatments, patients may receive a pint of whole blood or just the specific components of the blood that are needed to treat their particular condition. This approach to treatment, referred to as blood component therapy, allows several patients to benefit from one pint of donated whole blood.
Giving the “right” type of blood donation – based on your blood type and patient needs – helps ensure the best use of your valuable contribution.
According to the American Red Cross, “During an AB Elite donation, you give plasma, and a part of your blood used to treat patients in emergency situations. AB plasma can be given to anyone regardless of their blood type. Plasma is collected through an automated process that separates plasma from other blood components, then safely and comfortably returns your red blood cells and platelets to you. AB Elite maximises your donation and takes just a few minutes longer than donating blood. The amount of plasma you can donate is based on your body weight.”
Who it helps: AB Plasma is used in emergency and trauma situations to help stop bleeding.
Ideal blood types: AB positive, AB negative
Donation frequency: Every 28 days, up to 13 times/year
Time it takes: About 1 hour and 15 minutes
Platelets are tiny cells in your blood that form clots and stop bleeding. Platelets are most often used by cancer patients and others facing life-threatening illnesses and injuries.
According to the American Red Cross, “In a platelet donation, an apheresis machine collects your platelets along with some plasma, returning your red cells and most of the plasma back to you. A single donation of platelets can yield several transfusable units, whereas it takes about five whole blood donations to make up a single transfusable unit of platelets.”
Who it helps: Platelets are a vital element of cancer treatments and organ transplant procedures, as well as other surgical procedures.
Time it takes: About 2.5-3 hours
Ideal blood types: A positive, A negative, B positive, O positive, AB positive and AB negative
Donation frequency: Every 7 days, up to 24 times/year
Power Red Donation
According to the American Red Cross, “During a Power Red donation, you give a concentrated dose of red cells, the part of your blood used every day for those needing transfusions as part of their care. This type of donation uses an automated process that separates your red blood cells from the other blood components, and then safely and comfortably returns your plasma and platelets to you."
Who it helps: Red cells from a Power Red donation are typically given to trauma patients, newborns and emergency transfusions during birth, people with sickle cell anemia, and anyone suffering blood loss.
Time it takes: About 1.5 hours
Ideal blood types: O positive, O negative, A negative, and B negative
Donation frequency: Every 112 days, up to 3 times/year
Whole Blood Donation
“Whole blood is the most flexible type of donation. It can be transfused in its original form, or used to help multiple people when separated into its specific components of red cells, plasma and platelets," the Red Cross said.
Who it helps: Whole blood is frequently given to trauma patients and people undergoing surgery.
Time it takes: About 1 hour
Ideal blood types: All blood types
Donation frequency: Every 56 days
Before donating blood, one must be healthy and should ensure they meet the basic eligibility criteria. Blood donation is a small act of kindness, yet it is live-saving. Donate blood, become a saviour!