Washington, D.C., June 14, 2010 (PAHO) - The launch of the campaign takes place today in Nicaragua, which since March 2009 has achieved "universal voluntary donation," that is, collecting all of its blood through voluntary, altruistic donation. Other countries and territories of Americas that have achieved universal voluntary donation include Canada, Cuba, the United States, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, and Suriname.
Voluntary, altruistic and periodic blood donation is the most effective way to ensure an adequate supply of safe blood for transfusions, notes Dr. José Ramiro Cruz, PAHO's regional advisor on laboratory and blood services.
"Altruistic donors help patients who depend on blood transfusion because they cannot be treated with any other means or technologies," says Cruz. "These donors also know that it is important for them to be healthy so that their blood does not harm the recipient."
In a message for World Blood Donor Day, Champion of Health Shaila Dúrcal notes that each year, an estimated 24 million units of blood are needed for transfusions in Latin America and the Caribbean, but only 9 million are collected.
"Today, instead of talking about my passion for music, I would like to talk to you about something that concerns us all: a very simple act that can save lives that we sometimes don't do for lack of accurate information, and that is donating blood voluntarily and altruistically," says Dúrcal.
The 2010 World Blood Donor Day campaign, whose theme is "New Blood for the World," is aimed at raising awareness of the importance of blood donation among young donors. The campaign is being promoted by PAHO, the World Health Organization, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Society for Blood Transfusion, and the International Federation of Blood Donor Organizations.
Dr. Cruz noted that of the 9 million units of blood collected in Latin America and the Caribbean, "only 40 percent come from truly altruistic volunteer donors. The rest of the donations are made in response to a demand from the hospital for a specific patient. This is why 25 percent of the people who attempt to give blood do not meet the requirements for donating blood." He added that many people suffer from low iron levels or a clinical condition or have engaged in behavior that puts them at risk of being infected with pathogens such as the human immunodeficiency virus (which causes AIDS), hepatitis B and C, or others that can be transmitted through transfusions.
"A large proportion of blood units collected have markers for infection with these agents, which jeopardizes transfusion safety and results in a waste of economic resources, since health providers must discard potentially infectious units," said Cruz.
PAHO's blood donation strategy, "Pledge 2 Save Lives," encourages people to donate blood twice a year on scheduled dates, to ensure periodic donation while preventing a drop in donor's iron levels.
"Blood is a resource that cannot be produced in laboratories or factories," says Shaila Dúrcal. "Simply put, the blood we can share with others who need it is the blood that runs through our veins." She urges donors to visit blood donation centers periodically and regularly, "without any motive other than helping someone who needs our blood."
"Starting today, join the 12 million people who, under the banner 'Pledge 2 Save Lives,' will ensure that in Latin America and the Caribbean, this resource will never be lacking for the people who need it," says Durcal.
- PAHO Champion of Health Shaila Dúrcal Message on World Blood Donor Day (available in Spanish)PLEDGE 2 SAVE LIVES
- Blood Services
- World Blood Donor Day 2010