Every year, on 14 June, countries around the world celebrate World Blood Donor Day (WBDD). 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.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.
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 lives and health of millions of people are affected by emergencies every year. In the last decade, disasters have caused more than 1 million deaths, with more than 250 million people being affected by emergencies every year. Natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods and storms create considerable needs for emergency health care, while at the same time, often destroying vital health facilities as well. Man-made disasters such as road accidents and armed conflicts also generate substantial health care demands and the need for front-line treatment.
Blood transfusion is an essential component of emergency health care. Emergencies increase the demand for blood transfusion and make its delivery challenging and complex. This year’s campaign focused on blood donation in emergencies. In crisis or emergency situation, the natural human response is “What can I do? How can I help?”. Therefore, the slogan for the 2017 campaign is: What can you do? with the secondary message: Give blood. Give now. Give often.
The campaign underlines the role every single person can play in helping others in emergency situations, by giving the valuable gift of blood. It also focuses on the fact that it is important to give blood regularly, so that the blood stock is sufficient before an emergency arises.
The objectives of this year’s campaign include:
to encourage all people to strengthen the emergency preparedness of health services in their community by donating blood;
to engage authorities in the establishment of effective national blood donor programmes with the capacity to respond promptly to the increase in blood demand during emergencies;
to promote the inclusion of blood transfusion services in national emergency preparedness and response activities;
to build wider public awareness of the need for committed, year-round blood donation, in order to maintain adequate supplies and achieve a national self-sufficiency of blood;
to celebrate and thank individuals who donate blood regularly and to encourage young people to become new donors as well;
to promote international collaboration and to ensure worldwide dissemination of and consensus on the principles of voluntary non-remunerated donation, while increasing blood safety and availability.
Mine can ask, Why should I donate blood? Safe blood saves live and improves health. Blood transfusion is needed for:
women with complications of pregnancy, such as ectopic pregnancies and haemorrhage before, during or after childbirth;
children with severe anemia often resulting from malaria or malnutrition;
people with severe trauma following man-made and natural disasters; and
many complex medical and surgical procedures and cancer patients.
It is also needed for regular transfusions for people with conditions such as thalassemia and sickle cell disease and is used to make products such as clotting factors for people with hemophilia.
There is a constant need for regular blood supply because blood can be stored for only a limited time before use.
Blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person — the gift of life. A decision to donate your blood can save a life, or even several if your blood is separated into its components — red cells, platelets and plasma — which can be used individually for patients with specific conditions.
Around 108 million units of donated blood are collected globally every year. Nearly 50% of these blood donations are collected in high-income countries, home to less than 20% of the world’s population. Many patients requiring transfusion, however, do not have timely access to safe blood and blood products. Every country needs to ensure that supplies of blood and blood products are sufficient and free from HIV, hepatitis viruses and other infections that can be transmitted through transfusion.
Blood transfusions are used to support various treatments
In high-income countries, the most frequently transfused patient group is over 65 years of age, accounting for up to 76% of all transfusions. The transfusion is commonly used for supportive care in cardiovascular surgery, transplant surgery, massive trauma, and therapy for solid and hematological malignancies. In low- and middle-income countries, it is used more often for management of pregnancy-related complications, childhood malaria complicated by severe anemia, and trauma-related injuries.
Potential donors are evaluated for anything that might make their blood unsafe to use. The screening includes testing for diseases that can be transmitted by a blood transfusion, including HIV and viral hepatitis. The donor must also answer questions about medical history.
Donated blood is tested by many methods, but the core tests recommended by the World Health Organization are these four:
Hepatitis B Surface Antigen
Antibody to Hepatitis C
Antibody to HIV, usually subtypes 1 and 2
Serologic test for Syphilis
The WHO reported in 2006 that 56 out of 124 countries surveyed did not use these basic tests on all blood donations.
Bruising three days after donation
Hypovolemic reactions can occur because of a rapid change in blood pressure. Fainting is generally the worst problem.
Donors sometimes have adverse reactions to the sodium citrate used in apheresis collection procedures to keep the blood from clotting. Since the anticoagulant is returned to the donor along with blood components that are not being collected, it can bind the calcium in the donor’s blood and cause hypocalcemia.
Donor health benefits include:
In patients prone to iron overload, blood donation prevents the accumulation of toxic quantities. Research published in 2012 demonstrated that repeated blood donation is effective in reducing blood pressure, blood glucose, HbA1c, low-density lipoprotein/high-density lipoprotein ratio, and heart rate in patients with metabolic syndrome.
The writer is a Doctor at CMH Hospital Lahore and he can be reached at: [email protected]