Looking for a way to give back? Give blood!

15Jun 2020
Editor
The Guardian
Looking for a way to give back? Give blood!

Every year on 14 June, countries around the world celebrate World Blood Donor Day.   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.

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.

World Blood Donor Day is one of eight official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organisation   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 and 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 per  cent  voluntary unpaid blood donations, with 73 countries still largely dependent on family and paid donors.  

World Blood Donor Day is celebrated every year by people around the world on June 14. It is celebrated on the birthday anniversary of Karl Landsteiner on June 14, 1868.  

World Blood Donor Day brings a precious opportunity to all donors to celebrate and commemorate the birthday anniversary of Karl Landsteiner (a scientist who won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the ABO blood group system).  

Karl Landsteiner was an Austrian biologist, physician, and immunologist.  He distinguished the main blood groups in 1900, having developed the modern system of classification of blood groups from his identification of the presence of agglutinins in the blood, and identified, with Alexander S. Wiener, the Rhesus factor, in 1937, thus enabling physicians to transfuse blood without endangering the patient's life. With Constantin Levaditi and Erwin Popper, he discovered the polio virus in 1909. He received the Aronson Prize in 1926. In 1930, he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He was posthumously awarded the Lasker Award in 1946, and has been described as the father of transfusion medicine.

ABO blood group system, the classification of human blood based on the inherited properties of red blood cells (erythrocytes) as determined by the presence or absence of the antigens A and B, which are carried on the surface of the red cells.

According to the World Health Organisation, 800 women die every day from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications.  Severe bleeding is the cause of 34 per cent of maternal deaths in Africa, 31 per cent in Asia and 21 per cent  in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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