Washington D.C., May 5, 2017 (PAHO / WHO)-- Delegates representing the national blood programs of Latin America and The Caribbean countries, along with the Pan American Health Organization, met in Brasilia, Brazil April 26-27, to harmonize the definition of voluntary blood donation from other types of blood donations. This harmonization aims to monitor and compare the countries' progress to reach the goal to obtain 100% of blood supplies from voluntary unpaid donors define and reach consensus on the different types of blood donation in the Region.

Coinciding this year 2017 with the mid-term evaluation of the Plan of Action for Universal Access to Safe Blood 2014-2019 implementation, the meeting enabled countries to affirm the importance of repeat voluntary altruistic donation -that is, voluntary, disinterested and frequent donation-in order to maintain a safe, adequate and timely blood supply for all patients requiring transfusion. In addition, it was established that the remunerated extraction of blood and components should not be considered as any type of donation, since it is obtained from a person in exchange for money or other benefits.

The definitions of types of blood donations agreed are:

  1. Voluntary altruistic donation is donation of blood or blood components provided voluntarily without any monetary payment or in-kind exchange that could be considered a substitute for money. This would include time off work other than that reasonably needed for the donation and travel. Small tokens, refreshments, and reimbursement for direct expenses associated with travel/transportation are compatible with this type of donation.
  2. Replacement solidarity donation is donation of blood or blood components following a process of sensitization and education, when the donation is needed by a member of the person's family or community, without the donation being a condition for provision of the service needed.
  3. Replacement required donation is compulsory or forced donation of blood or blood components to provide a specific number of donations required in order to receive services, or to replace blood and components provided. Although blood banks and hospitals do not pay donors, the remunerated extraction of blood may be hidden by families of patients providing monetary or other payment.
  4. Autologous donation is donation of blood or blood components solely for the user's own future transfusion.

With regard to frequency-based types of donation, countries agreed on the following definitions:

  1. First-time donation is donation by a person who has never donated blood or components before.
  2. Repeat donation is donation by a person who has donated blood or components at least twice in the previous 12 months.

The countries of the Region that participated in the working meeting were Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela for Latin America, and Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago for the Caribbean.

The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean commit themselves to develop studies to assess the risks that solidarity donation involves for safe transfusion, and affirm the importance of repeat voluntary altruistic donation as the only way to achieve self-sufficiency, safety, efficiency, availability, and universal access to blood and blood components.