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  • Writer's pictureChiara Belfico

World Blood Donor Day 2024

World Blood Donor Day 2024 Chiara Belfico (2023-24 Iowa UNA College Ambassador from Drake University)

 

June 14th is World Blood Donor Day, and this year we mark 20 years since the beginning of celebrating this day. Today, it is a great opportunity to say “Thank you!” to donors all over the world, but it is also a day to call for more people to do the same. Regular, unpaid blood donations need to be honored as they are key to saving millions of people and come directly from the willingness of citizens to help others.

 

One single blood donation can save, or improve, up to three lives. It can help patients with severe anemia, cancer, and blood conditions.  Blood donations also are crucial during surgeries and are critical to respond to complications related to pregnancy and childbirth.

 

As Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer of the Red Cross, the nation’s largest blood supplier in the US, said: “One of the most distressing situations for a doctor is to have a hospital full of patients and an empty refrigerator without any blood products.” Young explains that in the US “A person needs lifesaving blood every two seconds in our country — and its availability can be the difference between life and death, however, blood is only available thanks to the generosity of those who roll up a sleeve to donate.”

 

Though the need for blood is universal, access to it is not. Low- and middle-income countries struggle with blood shortages. Data show that of the 118.5 million blood donations collected globally every year, 40% of them come from high-income countries, even though the latter are home to just 16% of the world’s population. In a sample of 1,000 people, the median blood donation rate is 31.5% (31.5 donations every 1000 people) in high-income countries, 16.4% in upper-middle-income countries, 6.6% in lower-middle-income countries, and just 5% in low-income ones.

 

The Global Blood Fund points out the blood shortages that many of the poorest countries face and highlights multiple reasons:

-       Inadequate public knowledge about blood donation;

-       A complete lack of trust in local health care services;

-       No cultural norms to donate to benefit strangers;

-       The donor communication tools are inadequate;

-       Lack of resources & training affects entire process;

-       Blood is not processed in components to help more people.

 

Today more than ever, everyone should become a blood donor, encourage their friends and family to do the same, share information on the web, and engage with the respective national blood programs.

 

But who can give blood? While people should refer to the national eligibility guidelines, some basic requirements are:

-       You are aged between 18 and 65.

-       You weigh at least 50 kg (110 lbs.).

-       You must be in good health at the time you donate.

-       If you traveled to areas where mosquito-borne infections (e.g., malaria, dengue, and Zika virus) are endemic, this may result in a temporary deferral.

 

In conclusion, creating a strong culture of regular blood donation, especially among young generations, is important to help and contribute to the health and well-being of millions of people. And again, let’s honor and thank all the voluntary donors around the world!

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