Safe blood donation, best selfless gift

June 17, 2008

TEHRAN - Hundreds of thousands of people each year receive blood components or blood products following accidents, during surgery or for cancer treatments, burn therapy, hemophilia, and other blood-related diseases.

Maintenance of the collective blood supply depends entirely on the generosity of people who care about sharing the priceless gift of good health.
Iranian Health Minister Kamran Baqeri-Lankarani said here on Saturday that about 40 percent of Iranian blood donors give blood regularly, adding that the country achieved 100 percent voluntary blood donation last year.
Addressing a ceremony held on the occasion of World Blood Donor Day at the headquarters of the Iran Blood Transfusion Organization, Baqeri-Lankarani said, “Compared with 56 other countries around the world, blood donation situation in the Islamic Republic is in very good shape.”
Fortunately, in our country donors are not paid to give blood, he said.
The Islamic Republic’s efforts to acquire adequate supplies of blood and blood products and make them accessible to all patients requiring transfusions and the safety of blood and blood products, as well as their safe and appropriate clinical use, can not be compared with those of any other Southwest Asian state, he said.
We have obtained permission to export blood plasma by raising the standard of our supply, Baqeri-Lankarani added.
The health minister also read the president’s statement for World Blood Donor Day at the ceremony.
World Blood Donor Day (June 14) was officially designated as an annual event by the World Health Assembly in 2005.
According to the World Health organization, about 60 percent of the global blood supply is donated in developed countries. Less than a quarter of countries have achieved 100 percent voluntary blood donation. Many countries still depend in varying degrees on blood donation by the friends or family of a patient needing a transfusion and, in some countries, some donors are still paid to give blood.
Over 40 percent of the country’s blood products are made from Iranians’ blood, Hassan Abolqasemi, the director of the Iran Blood Transfusion Organization, told the Mehr News Agency on World Blood Donor Day.
According to experts, there has been a decrease in the incidence of hepatitis B in the country.
It is estimated that 0.28% of the donors may be infected with the hepatitis B virus, while the rate for others is 3%.
About 0.5% of the country’s population carries the hepatitis C virus, while the rate for blood donors is about 0.13%.
Only 8% of the total number of blood donors are women. Due to their concern for the risk of anemia and transfusion-transmissible infections (TTIs), most women are not eager to donate blood.
According to the chairman of the Iranian Society of Anesthesiologists, Mohammad-Mehdi Qiamat, two out of three units of donated blood are used in operating rooms.
Healthy and infection-free blood transfusion from donor to patients is the basis of blood donation.
Increasing the number of voluntary blood donors who give blood regularly is important all around the world.
World Blood Donor Day is part of a larger international campaign to ensure safe blood will always be available to every patient who needs a transfusion as part of their treatment.
This year’s theme of World Blood Donor Day, “Giving Blood Regularly”, was an effort to support national blood donor programs in building a stable base of voluntary unpaid donors who make a long-term commitment to blood donation.
It was to highlight and emphasize the importance of regular donation by eligible donors in enabling blood collection to be planned to meet the requirements for specific blood groups and blood components and thus ensure access to safe blood transfusion when needed.
The emergence of HIV in the 1980s highlighted the importance of ensuring the safety, as well as the adequacy, of national blood supplies. In many countries, even where blood is available, many recipients remain at risk of transfusion-transmissible infections (TTIs) as a result of poor blood donor recruitment and selection practices and the use of untested units of blood.
We never know when something is going to happen, and when there is an emergency, there is no time to recruit volunteers to donate blood or to process the blood.
Since Saturday was World Blood Donor Day, let’s encourage everyone to donate a unit of blood. Blood donation is one way of being a healer. It’s a pretty remarkable gift.
Millions of lives are saved each year through blood transfusions. In many countries, however, people still die due to an inadequate supply of blood and blood products.
And summer is a season when fewer people donate blood. School is out, and people are vacationing and participating in outdoor activities. The donations decrease, but the need for them does not.
According to experts, healthy people can donate whole blood every 56 days, plasma every 28 days and platelets every seven days.
Plasma and platelet donations also are much-needed at this time of year.
If we live to the age of 72, there is a 95 percent chance that we will need blood products during our lifetime.
Blood of all types is needed. Type O is the most common, which is found in 45 percent of people. It’s also the “universal donor” -- the only blood type that can be used for patients of any blood type. But donors of types A, B, and AB are also needed because it is better to use the same type of blood, if possible.
We can donate blood if we are at least 17 years old, relatively healthy, haven’t had cancer within the past five years and haven’t traveled internationally within the past year.
We create our own pharmaceutical product that saves the life of somebody else, and there’s no replacement for it. There is no need of having education or special training to do it. It’s free; it’s a donation we can make without reaching into our checkbook. It’s a pretty unique way of helping out