14 June - World Blood Donor Day
For many years, the Council of Europe has been supporting World Blood Donor Day organised on 14 June each year, to promote this cause all over the world.
The Council of Europe promotes 3 major principles in the area of blood transfusion: the achievement of self-sufficiency, the protection of the health of blood donors and recipients and the non-commercialisation of substances of human origin by voluntary and non-remunerated donation.
The European Committee on Blood Transfusion (CD-P-TS) is in charge of this work and represents 35 European countries and 9 observer states as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Commission (EU).
The European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines & HealthCare (EDQM) co-ordinates the activities. It produces consensus reports aimed at improving practices, international surveys and recommendations to member states to make improvements to national legislation.
It also publishes the "Guide to the preparation, use and quality assurance of blood components" for professionals which is internationally recognised. The annual survey on the collection, testing and use of blood and blood components in Europe and the central database on stocks of frozen blood of rare blood groups are other examples of work given a high priority.
How is donated blood used?
The 17 million blood bags which were collected in 2002 in 15 countries in Europe were used to provide many patients with blood components. They received red blood cells, platelets or plasma depending on their needs. Red blood cells and platelets (which speed up clotting) are used to treat patients with cancer such as leukaemia or to treat accidental haemorrhage. They are of course valuable during surgery to replace blood lost during the operation. Plasma may be used in its initial form, in particular in the case of acute haemorrhage when there is an overall deficiency of blood coagulation factors, or it may be fractionated to isolate some of its proteins (immunoglobulins, coagulation factors, albumin, etc) for therapeutic use.
Can anyone be a donor?
In Europe any healthy person aged between 18 and 65 years old can usually donate whole blood, although other limits apply to donations of plasma and platelets. Between 1 and 4% of the adult population gives blood regularly. For safety reasons, users of injectable drugs, carriers of transmissible infections (HIV, hepatitis C, etc), recipients of organ transplants or transfusions cannot longer be blood donors.
What types of donation are possible?
Blood services collect whole blood, plasma using a technique called plasmapheresis (the donor’s blood is processed through an apheresis machine that extracts only the plasma and returns the rest of the blood to the donor), and platelets using a technique called plateletpheresis (the donor’s blood is processed through an apheresis machine, much like in a plasma donation. In this case, only the platelets are collected and the rest of the blood is returned to the donor). Blood services also collect blood samples from donors who wish to join a haematopoietic stem cell and bone marrow database. These data enable donors to be matched with patients who need stem cell transplants.
This year, the theme for World Blood Donor Day is “Every blood donor is a hero”. Every one of us can become a hero by giving blood
Numerous events and activities will be organised at a local level throughout the participating countries. The interactive map available on the EDQM website contains links to national blood service websites and visitors can find information on what festivities are being organised in their own country. A global event will be held in Seoul, Republic of Korea, hosted by the Korean Red Cross and the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Republic of Korea.