World Blood Donor Day

This Saturday, 14th June, is World Blood Donor Day and this year the focus is on 'Safe blood for saving mothers'.  800 women die from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications every day.  The goal of the WHO campaign is to increase awareness about why timely access to safe blood and blood products is essential for all countries as part of a comprehensive approach to prevent maternal deaths.

Almost all of these deaths occur in developing countries.  More than half of them occur in sub-Saharan Africa and almost one third in South Asia. The risk of maternal mortality is highest for adolescent girls under 15 years of age.  Severe bleeding during delivery and after childbirth is a major cause of mortality, morbidity and long-term disability.  However, access to safe and sufficient blood and blood products and the rational and safe use of blood transfusion still remain major challenges in many countries around the world.

Ministries of health, particularly in countries with high rates of maternal mortality, are being encouraged to take concrete steps towards ensuring that health facilities in their countries improve access to safe blood and blood products from volunteer donors for women giving birth.  But even in this country, where we take access to blood for granted, there are shortages of availability.  Having suffered a large blood loss after Tatiana's birth (1.7 litres!), I want to know that there is enough blood available for all mothers.  Everyone should be well enough to enjoy those first precious post-birth moments.

WHO and partners throughout the world, such as UK-based Benenden, are highlighting how safe blood from voluntary donors can save women’s lives everywhere.  In the UK, NHS Blood is driving for 118,000 more first time donors this year to replace those who can no longer donate. This becomes especially necessary in summer time as people often get distracted, with their attention turning to other things.

Giving blood is easy, painless, and you even get a free biscuit afterwards! Follow the hash tag #NationalBloodWeek for more information. And if you’ve already helped others by giving blood, then make sure you tweet with the hashtag #gaveblood, to spread awareness and encourage others to follow in your footsteps!