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World Blood Donor Day

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World Blood Donor Day

Every year, on June 14th, countries all around the world celebrate World Blood Donor Day. The holiday was established in 2004 by the World Health Organization (WHO) in order to both raise awareness about the need for blood donations all over the globe and to acknowledge and appreciate blood donors for their gifts.

The holiday is held on June 14th because it was the birthday of Karl Landsteiner, an Austrian physician and biologist (not to mention Nobel Prize winner) who discovered and classified the ABO blood groups at the turn of the 20th century. It’s because of his discovery that doctors became able to transfuse blood from one patient to another, and thus save countless lives. Every year, the WHO comes up with a theme to celebrate World Blood Donor Day such as “give the gift of life” or “blood connects us all.”

What Do People Do?

Many events are held around the world on June 14 to mark World Blood Donor Day. These include football matches, concerts and mobile blood donation clinics. In 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) called upon communities world-wide to symbolically “paint the world red” by coloring, covering or lighting monuments and landmarks.

Facts on blood donation

  • Around 112.5 million units of donated blood are collected globally every year, however, many patients requiring transfusion do not have timely access to safe blood and blood products.
  • Voluntary unpaid blood donors are the foundation of a safe, sustainable blood supply and account for 100% of blood supplies in 62 countries.
  • Voluntary unpaid blood donors are the safest group of donors because the prevalence of blood borne infections is lowest among them.
  • Often transfusions are prescribed when simple and safe alternative treatments might be equally effective. An unnecessary transfusion exposes patients to the risk of infections such as HIV and hepatitis and adverse transfusion reactions.
  • The shelf- life of donated blood is 35 to 42 days; hence there is constant need to replenish stocks in the blood banks.
  • Healthy donors are between the age of 18 to 65 years.
  • A single unit of blood separating into its various components can benefit several patients.
  • All donated blood should always be screened for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and syphilis prior to transfusion

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