Every year on June 14, organizations all around the globe celebrate World Blood Donor Day. An event that raises awareness to the importance that donating blood means to the health industry, as the range of uses is way more diverse than anyone thinks. From plasma treatments to research and emergency uses, donating blood has been an important cornerstone that has aided the world on several occasions.
History of World Blood Donor Day
The history of blood donation goes far back, with the first transfusions done using poorly understood science and very early research. But it wasn’t until Richard Lower was the first one to examine the science of blood donation with animals. He managed to successfully transfuse blood between two dogs with no appreciable ill effects.
And the science that surrounded the topic of blood slowly developed from that point, breaking taboos and moving from animal experimentation. From progress in transfusion technology to Karl Landsteiner discovering the ABO human blood type system to best determine donors, blood transfusions quickly became a staple in health topics and the medical field.
Following on from the success of World Health Day in the year 2000, which focussed on blood donation and the safety of transfusions, ministers of health from all across the world made a unanimous declaration in May 2005, during the 58th World Health Assembly, to designate World Blood Donor Day as an annual event held on every June 14, choosing Landsteiner’s birthday to commemorate it.
World Blood Donor Day aims to raise awareness regarding the need for regular blood donations, important to keep the health industry with a stable supply, and to celebrate the hard work of medical professionals that work in the research and development for new technology and uses for donated blood, as well as medical teams who use blood on a regular basis. This day is also used to thank donors for their service and determination to save lives and make the world a better place.
World Blood Donor Day timeline
- December 6, 2013
The largest blood donation drive was held, where 61,902 participants donated blood all across India
- June 11, 2009
The Melbourne Declaration is established, setting up a goal for all countries to obtain all blood supplies from voluntary unpaid donors by 2020.
- May 2005
World Blood Donor Day is created and implemented at the 58th World Health Assembly.
- April 7, 2000
The theme of World Health Day is “Safe Blood Starts With Me”
World Blood Donor Day FAQs
What is the Rh factor?
Rh stands for Rhesus factor, and it’s a protein that lives on the surface of the red blood cells. People who have it are positive, while people who don’t are negative. When it comes to blood transfusion, Rh positive people can receive either kind, but Rh negative people can only receive Rh negative blood.
What’s the shelf life of donated blood?
Blood components have different measures of times they can be stored. Red blood cells can last up to 42 days; plasma can last for a year when frozen, and platelets can be stored for only five days; so it is important to keep a regular donation rate.
Where can I donate blood?
There are multiple options and places where to donate blood. Search on the internet for your closest Red Cross, hospital or health organization and schedule a date. It’s quick and easy, we encourage you to donate if you’re able!
How to Observe World Blood Donor Day
If you’re eligible to donate blood, you only need to dedicate about an hour of your day to this live-saving process. Once you arrive for your donation and check in, you’ll be given a mini-physical to make sure that you’re healthy enough to donate blood. The actual blood donation process only takes a little over ten minutes—typically, they take about one pint of blood per person. Once you’ve finished, they’ll give you some refreshments (read: free snacks!) to make sure you're ready to get back to your normal life.
Spread the word
If you either can’t donate blood or can’t find the time, spreading the word about the importance of World Blood Donor Day can be hugely impactful. Tell your friends, family, colleagues, and social media followers how important blood donations are. Many people are unaware of how easy the process is, so word-of-mouth is incredibly helpful in inspiring future blood donors.
Find an event near you
Look online to see if there are any special events in your area, such as rallies or pop-up donation sites, to celebrate World Blood Donor Day. Many blood centers, hospitals, and volunteers set up special, fun events on June 14th to celebrate the holiday and maximize blood donations. Again: there’s a very good chance of free snacks.
5 Facts About Blood
There are eight blood types
They are A, B, AB and O, and they come in either positive or negative Rh Factor
Able to give to all
People with Type O negative blood are universal donors with blood that can be used by anyone.
A common occurrence
About 4.5 million Americans receive blood transfusions each year.
An average adult has about 10 – 12 pints of blood in his or her body.
Blood is made of four elements
It’s divided into red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, all floating in plasma.
Why World Blood Donor Day is Important
It saves lives
Before blood transfusions became a regular medical practice, lives were regularly lost as a result of an inadequate blood supply. Blood donations end up supporting a wide variety of medical needs, from pre-planned, minor procedures to emergency surgeries. Blood transfusions are an important part of the planned treatment of cancer patients or expecting mothers, as well as vital in case of disasters or car crashes.
There’s always a need for more blood donations
Donating blood is a quick, easy, and incredibly safe process, but only a small subsection of the population are regular blood donors. Out of the people who are considered “eligible” to donate blood, only about 10 percent choose to do so. Because blood donation is an entirely voluntary process, World Blood Donor Day is an important reminder of how there can never be such a thing as “too many blood donations.” In the United States alone, someone needs blood every two seconds!
It's a global issue
Having an adequate blood supply is, obviously, necessary in every country on earth. Right now, many developed countries are able to rely on voluntary, unpaid blood donations to meet 100% of their blood supply needs. But finding those volunteers and making sure the blood is safe is still a big issue in developing countries, and they often have to rely on either family or paid donations. The WHO is working hard to ensure that, in the near future, blood donations all over the world will be entirely unpaid and voluntary.
World Blood Donor Day dates