14 June - World Blood Donor Day

For many years, the Council of Europe has been supporting World Blood Donor Day (WBDD), which is a worldwide event organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to honour and give thanks to those people who give the gift of life through blood donation. In 2013 the Council of Europe is joining the founding international organisations to call for a mobilisation to donate blood and to say thanks to the millions of donors.

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. It has representatives from 35 European countries and 9 observer states, as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Commission. The European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines & HealthCare (EDQM, Council of Europe) co-ordinates the activities of the CD-P-TS.
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 as a cornerstone in standard setting. 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?

Every year, tens of millions of blood bags are collected in Europe with the donated blood being used to provide many patients with blood components. They receive red blood cells, platelets or plasma, depending on their needs (whole blood is never transfused; patients receive only the component that they need, with the exception of auto-transfusion).

The transfusion of red blood cells and platelets are essential as an add-on therapy in the treatment of patients with cancer, such as leukaemia (50%), or to treat accidental haemorrhage (15%). They are, of course, valuable during surgery (27%) to replace blood lost during the operation. Plasma may be used in its initial form, in particular in the case of acute haemorrhage, or it may be fractionated to isolate some of its constituents (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. Other age limits may apply to donations of plasma and platelets. Depending on the country, between 0.4% and 6.4% of the adult population gives blood regularly . For safety reasons, users of injectable drugs, carriers of transmissible infections (HIV, hepatitis C, etc.) and recipients of organ transplants or transfusions cannot be blood donors.

What types of donation are possible?

Blood services collect:

  • Whole blood, which is converted into blood components.
  • 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. Plasma may be transfused into a patient or further processed into therapeutic products).
  • Platelets using a technique called plateletpheresis. (The donor’s blood is processed through an apheresis machine, much like in 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.

How often is it possible to donate?

As a rule, men may donate whole blood up to 6 times per year and women up to 4 times. Plasma and platelets may be donated more frequently.

2013 edition

This year, the theme and slogan for World Blood Donor Day is: “Give the gift of life: donate blood”.

By donating blood we are giving the gift of life to someone in need.

This year will see the 10th Anniversary and numerous events and activities organised at local level throughout the participating countries. This global event is held every year and 2013 has particular significance for Europe as France has been selected to host this year’s International Symposium, through its national blood establishment, Établissement Français du Sang (EFS).

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.

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