National Blood Week – a call for Arms

This week, it’s all about rolling up your sleeves and saving lives.

Blood donor chair

The appeal comes at the start of this week’s National Blood Week (10th-16th June 2013), which aims to educate people about the merits of donating blood and to encourage more donors to come forward.

NHS officials revealed recently that nearly half of active blood donors in the UK are over 45 years old, so this year’s campaign has been designed to encourage new donors with particular emphasis on recruiting younger people to donate blood.

With seven out of ten 16-21 year olds wanting to know more before deciding whether to donate, NHS Blood and Transplant hopes that extra knowledge will prompt more people to become donors, to ensure a steady supply of blood for NHS patients in the future.

‘Our theme is Know Blood, Give Blood,’ says Jon Latham of health authority NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT). ‘Showing the journey of blood from donor to patient really demonstrates how your blood can save lives in a matter of days.’

To maintain reserves, the NHSBT needs 225,000 new donors every year. . It collects approximately 2million units each year from 1.3million donors, with each donor making approximately 1.5 donations a year.

Although that might sound like a lot, the service says it reflects just four per cent of eligible donors.

This is why NHS Blood and Transplant wants to encourage younger people, and those who could donate but haven’t done so in a while, to make a commitment to register to give blood during National Blood Week.

The most common reasons cited by people who don’t give blood are:

“I don’t like needles”

Many people feel that way at first but be reassured that most donors will tell you that you only feel a slight initial pinch with very little discomfort, and approximately 10 -15 minutes later you are finished and heading to the canteen. If you take the time (and courage) to make one donation, you’ll wonder why you ever hesitated.

“I’m afraid to give blood”

It’s perfectly normal to feel apprehensive about donating blood for the first time. Many people are afraid about donating blood. Donating blood should not adversely affect a healthy adult as you will donate less than a pint and your body will replace the donated volume within 24-48 hours.

Most people adapt quickly to this blood loss and experience no ill effects, but a few individuals’ adapt less well and can feel faint.  Rest assured that qualified staff are on hand to assist you and the addition of Renfrew’s blood donor chair implemented by the NHSBT, has been designed with patient comfort in mind. This innovative new design ensures the chair can easily be adapted for patients into a flat position to regulate blood pressure in these circumstances. The donor chair’s intelligent design factors have seen vast improvements with the donation process by staff and patients, and has even been nominated for an ‘Innovation Award’ at this year’s Medilink Awards.

“I’m afraid of catching a disease.”

Blood is safer today than it has ever been before. There is no possibility of getting communicable diseases by donating blood as the blood collecting set and needles used are sterile and also disposable, i.e. they are destroyed after single use.  Blood centres follow multiple layers of safety procedures, including blood donor eligibility standards, individual screening, laboratory testing, confidential exclusion of donations, and donor record checks before distribution.

“I’m too busy”

How would you feel if you or a loved one were in need of a blood transfusion and heard this excuse? The entire process takes about an hour, and the actual blood donation time is only 10-15 minutes. Blood donation is a momentary discomfort for the donor that can provide a lifetime of difference for the patient.

If you stop to think that an hour of your time could mean a lifetime for a premature baby, someone with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, or someone who’s had an accident, you might decide that you can make the time to give the gift of life.

Donating blood is safe, simple and saves lives!  With one blood donation you could save up to 3 lives. In what other activity, can so little time do so much?

World Blood Donor Day

Falling within National Blood Week is World Blood Donor Day on Friday 14th June; the birthday of Nobel Prize winner Dr Karl Landsteiner who discovered the ABO blood grouping system.

Supported by  World Health Organisation, this year’s campaign “Give the gift of life: donate blood”, will be the  10th anniversary of World Blood Donor Day, and focus on the value of donated blood to the patient, not only in saving life, but also in helping people live longer and more productive lives

The host country for World Blood Donor Day 2013 is France. Through its national blood service, the Etablissement Français du Sang (EFS), France has been promoting voluntary non remunerated blood donation since the 1950s. A global event will be held in Paris on 14 June 2013.

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