World Blood Donor Day 2019
In May 2005, during the 58th World Health Assembly, ministers of health from across the world made a unanimous declaration of commitment and support towards voluntary blood donation, designating the 14th June of every year to be World Blood Donor Day. The event is held on 14th June because it was the birthday of Karl Landsteiner, an Austrian physician, biologist and 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.
Every year, the WHO comes up with a theme to celebrate World Blood Donor Day, and this year’s theme is “Safe blood for all”, aimed to raise awareness of the universal need for safe blood in the delivery of health care. Rwanda will be hosting this year’s World Blood Donor Day; having the event in Africa aims to raise awareness that safe and sufficient blood supply is important in many key public health programs in Africa. One fact about blood in Rwanda: blood is collected from 100% voluntary and non-remunerated Blood Donors.
In 2009 the Melbourne Declaration was established, which set up a goal for all countries to obtain all their blood supplies from voluntary unpaid donors by 2020. In total, 78 countries collect over 90% of their blood supply from voluntary unpaid blood donors; however, 58 countries collect more than 50% of their blood supply from family/replacement or paid donors.
Closer to home: to become a blood donor in the UK, you must be aged between 17 and 66 years old, in good health, and with a weight of more than 7 stone 12 lbs. However, if you are on any medications, have recently travelled outside the UK or have recently had a tattoo, this may also affect your suitability as a donor. If you’re eligible to donate blood, the whole process only takes about an hour. You have a mini-physical to make sure that you’re healthy enough to donate blood, and the actual blood donation process only takes a little over ten minutes. Once you’ve finished, they’ll give you some refreshments (aka free snacks!) to help you recover.
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