World Blood Donor Day

Blood is what regulates the human body and without blood in our systems, we will not be able to live and breathe. It is thicker than water, and feels a bit sticky. The temperature of blood in the body is 38° C, which is about one degree higher than body temperature. Blood has three important functions:Blood plays an important role in regulating the body’s systems as well as supplying oxygen and nutrients to tissues, removing waste, transporting hormones and other signals throughout the body. Composed of plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, the main function of blood is to regulate the pH of the body and the core body temperature. The amount of blood a person has in his body depends mostly on his size and weight.

Blood is an important resource, both for planned treatments and urgent interventions. It can help patients suffering from life-threatening conditions live longer and with a higher quality of life, and supports complex medical and surgical procedures. Blood is also vital for treating the wounded during emergencies of all kinds (natural disasters, accidents, armed conflicts, etc.) and has an essential, life-saving role in maternal and perinatal care.

There’s no end to the benefits of donating blood for those who need it. Blood is needed to save lives in times of emergencies and to sustain the lives of those with medical conditions, like leukemia, thalassaemia and bleeding disorders, as well as patients who are undergoing major surgeries. For many patients, blood donors are their lifeline. One unit of blood can save three lives!

It turns out that donating blood doesn’t just benefit recipients. There are health benefits for donors, too, on top of the benefits that come from helping others. Donating blood has benefits for your emotional and physical health. According to a report by the Mental Health Foundation, helping others can reduce stress, improve your emotional well-being, benefit your physical health, help get rid of negative feelings as well as provide a sense of belonging and reduce isolation.

For those who have a rare blood group, it is all the more important they donate blood. I am one of those individuals. My blood group is B-ve and I am the only person in my family to have this blood group. In fact, I was so convinced that the result was wrong the first time I did the test to determine thhe blood type, that I did multiple tests to confirm the fact that my group was so different from the rest of my family. B negative is one of the rarest blood groups with around 3-4% of the population having this group. S and the children are O positive and because of this, I had to take multiple injections when I was pregnant so that my body does not reject the children’s positive blood group. I used to donate blood and also had a card from the local Red Cross which stated my blood group and to not do any transfusion if I needed it unless the check the blood which will be transferred into my body, but I lost it when my wallet got nicked some years back. These days, even though I want to, because of my diabetes, I am unable to donate blood. S on the other hand, is an enthusiastic donor and donates multiple times a year.

Yesterday was World Blood Donor Day. The event serves to raise awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products and to thank blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood.

A blood service that gives patients access to safe blood and blood products in sufficient quantity is a key component of an effective health system. Ensuring safe and sufficient blood supplies requires the development of a nationally coordinated blood transfusion service based on voluntary non-remunerated blood donations. However, in many countries, blood services face the challenge of making sufficient blood available, while also ensuring its quality and safety.

The need for safe blood is universal. Safe blood is critical both for treatments and urgent interventions. It can help patients suffering from life-threatening conditions live longer and with a higher quality of life and supports complex medical and surgical procedures. Blood is also vital for treating the wounded during emergencies of all kinds (natural disasters, accidents, armed conflicts, etc.) and has an essential, life-saving role in maternal and neonatal care.

But access to safe blood is still a privilege of the few. Most low- and middle-income countries struggle to make safe blood available because donations are low and equipment to test blood is scarce. Globally, 42% of blood is collected in high-income countries, which are home to only 16% of the world’s population.

An adequate supply of safe blood can only be assured through regular donations by voluntary unpaid blood donors. This is why the World Health Assembly in 2005 designated a special day to thank blood donors and encourage more people to give blood freely. World Blood Donor Day takes place every year on 14 June. As well as thanking blood donors, it is a day to raise awareness about the global need for safe blood and how everyone can contribute.

The campaign theme for this year’s World Blood Donor Day is “Safe blood saves lives” with the slogan “Give blood and make the world a healthier place”. The idea is to focus on the contribution an individual giver can make to improve health for others in the community. Blood donations are needed all over the world to ensure individuals and communities have access to safe and quality-assured blood and blood products in both normal and emergency situations. Through the campaign, we call on more people all over the world to become life-savers by volunteering to donate blood regularly.

The objectives of this year’s campaign are to celebrate and thank individuals who donate blood and encourage more people to start donating; to raise wider awareness of the urgent need to increase the availability of safe blood for use wherever and whenever it is needed to save life; to demonstrate the need for universal access to safe blood transfusion and provide advocacy on its role in the provision of effective health care and in achieving universal health coverage; and to mobilise support at national, regional and global levels among governments and development partners to invest in, strengthen and sustain national blood programmes.

The day and the theme are also a call to action for governments, national health authorities and national blood transfusion services to provide adequate resources and put in place systems and infrastructures to increase the collection of blood from voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors; to provide quality donor care; to promote and implement appropriate clinical use of blood; and to set up systems for the oversight and surveillance on the whole chain of blood transfusion.

Are you a blood donor, if yes, here’s a huge shoutout to you and if no, please consider giving some blood to someone who needs it, if you are physically able to.

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