Every year on 14 June, countries around the world celebrate World Blood Donor Day (WBDD). The event, established in 2004, serves to raise awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products, and to thank blood donors for their voluntary, life-saving gifts of blood.
World Blood Donor Day is one of eight official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organization (WHO), along with World Health Day, World Tuberculosis Day, World Immunization Week, World Malaria Day, World No Tobacco Day, World Hepatitis Day, and World AIDS Day.
Transfusion of blood and blood products helps save millions of lives every year. It can help patients suffering from life-threatening conditions live longer and with higher quality of life, and supports complex medical and surgical procedures. It also has an essential, life-saving role in maternal and perinatal care. Access to safe and sufficient blood and blood products can help reduce rates of death and disability due to severe bleeding during delivery and after childbirth.
In many countries, there is not an adequate supply of safe blood, and blood services face the challenge of making sufficient blood available, while also ensuring its quality and safety.
An adequate supply can only be assured through regular donations by voluntary unpaid blood donors. The WHO’s goal is for all countries to obtain all their blood supplies from voluntary unpaid donors by 2020. In 2014, 60 countries have their national blood supplies based on 99-100% voluntary unpaid blood donations, with 73 countries still largely dependent on family and paid donors.
Themes of World Blood Donor Day campaigns
2014: Safe blood for saving mothers
The focus of the WBDD 2014 campaign was “Safe blood for saving mothers”. The goal of the campaign was to increase awareness about why timely access to safe blood and blood products is essential for all countries, as part of a comprehensive approach to prevent maternal deaths.
According to the World Health Organization, 800 women die every day from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. Severe bleeding is the cause of 34% of maternal deaths in Africa, 31% in Asia and 21% in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The global host for the WBDD 2014 event was Sri Lanka. Through its national blood transfusion service, Sri Lanka promotes voluntary unpaid donation to increase access to safe and sufficient blood and blood products.
2013: Give the gift of life
The focus for the WBDD 2013 campaign – which marked the 10th anniversary of World Blood Donor Day – was blood donation as a gift that saves lives. The WHO encouraged all countries to highlight stories from people whose lives have been saved through blood donation, as a way of motivating regular blood donors to continue giving blood and people in good health who have never given blood, particularly young people, to begin doing so.
The host country for World Blood Donor Day 2013 was France. Through its national blood service, the Etablissement Français du Sang (EFS), France has been promoting voluntary non-remunerated blood donation since the 1950s.
2012: Every blood donor is a hero
The 2012 campaign focused on the idea that any person can become a hero by giving blood. Blood cannot yet be manufactured artificially, so voluntary blood donation remains vital for healthcare worldwide. Many anonymous blood donors save lives every day through their blood donations.
Some Inportant facts about our Blood
1. Eight percent of your body weight is in your blood.
Scientists have estimated the volume of blood in the human body to be eight percent of body weight, according to the American Society of Hematology. An average adult body with a weight of 150 to 180 pounds will contain about 1.2 to 1.5 gallons of blood. Meanwhile, an average child with a body weight of 80 pounds will have half the amount of blood as an adult.
2. There is 0.2 milligrams of gold in your body, most of which is in your blood.
The human body contains gold, but it’s not enough to strike it rich. The body contains approximately 0.2 milligrams of gold that is most diffused with our blood. However, you would need to bleed 40,000 people dry just to collect enough blood to make an 8-gram souvenir, The Telegraph reported.
3. Coconut water can be used (in emergencies) as a substitute for blood plasma.
Coconut water is often touted as a recovery drink because of the hydrating electrolytes it contains. The belief it can be used as a subsitute for blood plasma stems from the fact coconut water possesses identical properties to that of human plasma, and since it can be safely injected directly into the bloodstream. A small scale 1999 study published in The American Journal of Emergency Medicine found the use of coconut water served as a short-term IV hydration fluid for a Solomon Island patient when nothing else was available.
4. Pregnant women have about 50% more blood by week 20 of pregnancy than they did before they conceived.
During pregnancy, a woman’s blood volume increases by 50 percent to help support the uterus, along with the amount of blood pumped by the heart. This extra volume is necessary to provide blood to the uterus and placenta, says All Children’s Hospital. By the end of the pregnancy, a woman’s uterus will receive one-fifth of her pre-pregnancy blood supply.
5. Your blood type can increase memory problems.
The life-sustaining liquid has more power over brain function than most like to think. A 2014 study published in the journal Neurology found those with blood type AB were twice as likely to experience memory problems as those with type O blood. However, AB patients shouldn’t worry since the association made was relatively small and warrants further research to validate the claim. This blood type is also prone to blood clots and can lead to heart attacks, stroke, or other vein clogging due to its higher levels of protein VIII.
6. James Harrison has donated blood over 1,000 times, saving over 2 million unborn babies from Rhesus disease.
James Harrison, also known as “ the man with the golden arm” due to the unusual composition of his blood, has saved over two million babies through blood donations. His blood contains Rho(D) Immune Globulin, an antibody that is used to treat Rhesus disease, a disease which antibodies destroy a pregnant woman’s blood destroys her baby’s blood cells. He has donated blood a record 1,000 times and saved 2,000,000 lives, Ten News reported.
7. Green Bay Packers fan unknowingly treated fatal blood disease through blood donations to afford football games.
Jim Becker, a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan, used to donate blood to afford to buy tickets to the Packers games for 56 years, to discover he was saving his own life all along. The Packers fan was told by his doctor his blood donations may have dampened the effects of an undiagnosed case of hemochromatosis, a blood disorder that took his father’s life, ABC News reported. The only treatment for hemochromatosis is to donate blood routinely, or about one unit of blood per week until iron levels are back to normal.
A drip of blood may make you now think twice about how vital it is for your survival.