World Blood Donor Day
By Shanuka Kadupitiyage
Ceylon Today Features
Ever since its establishment in 2004, the World Health Organisation and all countries celebrate World Blood Donor Day every 14 June with the ambition of promoting awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products. It also aims to thank blood donors for their life-saving donation of blood.
In the field of medicine, being able to supply safe blood for patients in need can be critical in saving a patient’s life. It can help patients suffering from life-threatening health complications live longer with a higher quality in life. Many surgical and medical procedures also depend on having safe blood readily available for transfusion (transferring blood to a person).
With the health of many people depending on access to safe blood, hospitals around the world are constantly in the need of people who are willing to donate their blood. Unfortunately, not all countries around the world have the needed amounts of safe blood due to lower rates of donation.
To promote the donation of safe blood, this year’s theme for World Blood Donor Day is ‘Safe blood saves lives’ with the slogan ‘Give blood and make the world a healthier place’
Because blood is of such importance, there are many guidelines in place to make sure both the donor and receiver of blood are protected. Those who wish to donate blood must be 18-60 years old, be free of any serious disease condition or pregnancy and pass a few tests to make sure that both the donor and the blood being donated are safe and healthy.
Such blood is then collected by various blood banks around the island, ready to be used to save the lives of those in need of blood. While the collected blood is safe, there are various types of blood. This means that there are a few things to think about before receiving blood.
Blood is categorised into blood types according to the antibodies that exist in the blood. Transfusing the blood of an incompatible blood type is not only useless, but can also cause various health complications and even death. Humans have eight different blood types (A+ , A- ,B+ ,B- ,O+ ,O- ,AB+, AB-)
Each blood type can receive blood of the same type or from type O- blood, except AB+ which can receive blood from any other blood type. Because of the special characteristics of these two blood types, they have been given special names. Type O- blood, which can be given to any blood type is called the ‘universal donor’ while type AB+ blood, which can receive any type of blood is called the ‘universal receiver’.
The National Blood Transfusion Service is the only organisation that handles everything related to the collection and handling of donated blood. They work together with the people and hospitals to make sure that every patient has the blood they need to stay alive.
Both collection and transfusion of blood are not painful at all, even if it may look rather scary initially. While it may not be your time yet to donate blood, remember that by doing so in the future, you will be saving the lives of people who are desperately in need of this life sustaining substance.