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Celebrating the Gift of Blood - Every Blood Donor is a Hero

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Thursday, 14 June 2012 16:45

11 June 2012 | KINGSTON/JAMAICA

On 14 June 2012, countries worldwide will celebrate World Blood Donor Day with events to raise awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products and to thank voluntary unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood.  World Blood Donor Day was established by the World Health Assembly in 2004 and its scope of events increases every year in recognition of the need to strengthen blood services and to express gratitude to all those selfless individuals who donate their blood for people they will never meet.

The theme of the 2012 World Blood Donor Day campaign, "EVERY BLOOD DONOR IS A HERO" focuses on the idea that every one of us can become a hero by giving blood. The everyday hero responds to an immediate need, whatever the conditions, despite inconvenience, putting the needs of others above their own. Voluntary blood donors come from all walks of life, all regions, backgrounds, religions and ages. By choosing to donate blood without getting paid, these individuals commit a "heroic" act, a gesture of human solidarity with the power to save lives. Some of them do so dozens of times over several decades. 

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Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson says "this theme reinforces the urgent need for more people to become heroes by volunteering to donate blood regularly. The provision of safe and adequate blood is an integral part of our country's national health care policy and health care infrastructure. We have put in place policies, systems and structures to ensure the safety, quality, accessibility and timely availability of blood and blood products to meet the needs of all our patients who require transfusion. All critical activities within our national blood system are coordinated at the national level to promote uniform standards, economies of scale, consistency in the quality and safety of blood and blood products, and best transfusion practices."

Ms. Margareta Skold, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Representative in Jamaica, says "the transfusion of blood and blood products helps save millions of lives every year. It can help improve life expectancy and the quality of life for patients suffering from life-threatening conditions, and supports complex medical and surgical procedures. In many countries, demand outstrips supply, and blood services face the challenge of making sufficient blood available, while also ensuring its quality and safety. Today, in 62 countries, national blood supplies are based on 100% (or more than 99.9%) voluntary unpaid blood donation. However, 40 countries still depend on family donors and even paid donors and collect less than 25% of their blood supplies from voluntary unpaid blood donors. WHO's goal is for all countries to obtain their blood supplies entirely from voluntary unpaid donors by 2020."

"Conservative estimates based on the number of injury cases seen each year put the country's very immediate needs at approximately 45,000 - 55,000 units of blood annually but we only collect an average 25,000 - 30,000 units. The collection at most of our ten centres across the island is far below the usage in those regions. This inevitably means that medical and surgical care could be seriously compromised. We need to increase blood collection urgently and in particular to increase voluntary donations so that we can have a steady, adequate and safe supply of blood," said Minister Ferguson.

Voluntary blood donors are unsung heroes who save lives every day through their blood donation. The National Blood Transfusion Service is planning a week of activities recognising the efforts of all those in Jamaica to provide safe blood and blood products which are an essential element of our health care system.

The guidance and support from our international partners is also appreciated including the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Federation of Blood Donor Organizations and the International Society of Blood Transfusion.

For more information visit the following websites:

Jamaica Ministry of Health website at: http://www.moh.gov.jm/
National Blood Transfusion Service website at: http://www.nbts.gov.jm