Every year on the 14th of June we mark World Blood Donor Day. The event, established in 2004, serves to raise awareness of the need of the safe blood and blood products and to celebrate and thank voluntary, unpaid blood donors around the world for their life-saving help.

The day also helps raise awareness of the importance of regular blood donations for those in need. Every few seconds, someone somewhere in the world needs blood. Blood transfusions and blood products help save millions of lives every year, and can help patients suffering from life-threatening conditions live longer and with a higher quality of life.

As blood can be stored for only a limited time before use, regular blood donations from healthy people are needed to ensure that safe blood is always available.

A decision to donate your blood can save a life or even several if your blood is separated into its components such as red cells, platelets and plasma, which can be used individually for patients with specific conditions.

Donated blood should always be screened for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and syphilis before transfusion. However, 35 countries are not able to screen all donated blood for one or more of these infections and testing is not reliable in many countries.

If you are interested in donating blood there are restrictions on who is a suitable donor, but you can find out more information from the blood donation organization in your country, or by visiting your healthcare provider.

Here are some facts you should know about blood donation:

  • Blood transfusion save lives and improves health

There are more than 112.5 million blood donations collected every year around the world, but there are still countries which do not have access to safe blood and blood products. It is every country’s responsibility to ensure sufficient blood and blood products which are free from HIV, hepatitis and other infections transmitted through transfusions.

  • Blood transfusions are used to support various treatments

The transfusions are mostly used for supportive care in cardiovascular surgery, transplant surgery, massive trauma and hematological malignancies. However, in low-income countries they are used more for pregnancy-related complications, severe anemia resulting from malaria and trauma-related injuries

  • Adequate supply of safe blood can only be assured through regular, voluntary and unpaid donation

A regular and sufficient supply of blood can only be assured through donations from regular, voluntary, unpaid blood donors. They are the safest group of donors because the prevalence of blood-borne infections is lowest among them

  • Voluntary unpaid donors account for 100% of blood suppliers in 57 countries

But in 71, countries less than 50% of blood supplies come from voluntary unpaid donors and the other part depends on paid donors and family replacements.

  • Around 112.5 million blood donations are collected globally every year

The average blood donation rate is more than 9 times greater in high-income countries than in low income countries.

  • More people in high-income countries donate blood that in other countries

The median annual blood transfusions per center is 15 000 in high-income countries and 3100 in middle and low-income countries

  • Donated blood should always be screened

Donated blood should always be screened for HIV, hepatitis and other transfusion-related diseases.

  • A single unit of blood can benefit several patients

Separating blood into its various components allows a single unit of blood to benefit several patients and provides a patient only the blood components needed.

  • Unnecessary blood transfusions expose patients to needles risk

Patients may be exposed to risk of infections such as HIV, hepatitis and other adverse transfusion reactions.

Resource: WHO