CAMAGÜEY. – Blood donation is one of the most humanitarian gestures that can exist and sometimes it remains anonymous. To achieve a stable base of regular, voluntary and unpaid donors guarantees a reliable and sufficient supply of blood that is not infested.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) ´ statistics, around 108 million units of blood are collected annually worldwide. However, the necessity is rising all over the world. In countries with higher and medium incomes that enjoy the advances of the medical care system, the demand is due to the increase of operations such as the cardiovascular and transplant surgeries, orthopedics and cancer treatment, because in the majority of major surgeries blood is essential for transfusions.

Before any transfusion, the blood that has been donated must be tested in order to detect HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and syphilis. However, in some of the Third World countries, blood from donations is not always subjected to the analysis of these diseases. Tests are not reliable because of the shortage of staff, the erratic supply and the poor quality of kits, or the lack of laboratory services.

As an interesting piece of information, it can be said that the separation of different blood components allows several patients to benefit from one donated unit that provides each of them with the component that he needs. In developed countries about the 95 % of all the collected blood is divided, while in medium-income countries only 80% is separated and in nations with low incomes, 45 %. Cuba is an exception because it belongs to the group with higher percentage.

In accordance to the WHO, traffic accidents cause 1.3 million deaths in the world and injure and incapacitate from 20 to 50 million people. Moreover, more than 468 000 individuals die as a result of hemorrhages that cannot be controlled.

The main goal that this organization wants to achieve is that for 2020 each country has its own blood supply from unpaid voluntary donors, because in many countries, mainly in those with low levels of development, blood donation is just a way of getting money. The payment in some medical centers fluctuates from 35 to 100 dollars per donation, depending on several factors like if it is the first time or if the person is a recurrent donor. In some cases, if you convince other people to donate, you receive ten dollars per each individual.

As a consequence, it was created the World Blood Donor Day which is celebrated on June 14. Its objective is to promote worldwide a culture about the voluntary blood donation. Since 2004, this event pays tribute to those people who help to save lives.

The World Health Assembly set this date as a demonstration of gratitude and recognition for the blood donors of the world. The date also commemorates the birthday of Karl Landsteiner, an Austrian pathologist and biologist who discovered the A, B and O blood groups. Due to this discovery, he won the Physiology or Medicine Nobel Prize in 1930.

Furthermore, this date aims to make people aware of the necessity of blood and the importance of increase the number of voluntary donors. Campaigns and activities have the support of an international media campaign. Each year a country is chosen to demonstrate its achievements in the activities that are designed to attain and keep the 100 % of voluntary donations. This year the WHO chose Holland as the host city and Quito, Ecuador was selected as the host region.

The main purpose of the World Blood Donor Day´s celebration is not to substitute the days and the weeks that every nation has chosen to honor their donors. Its principal objective is to give people the chance of celebrating the humanitarian and voluntary spirit. Its aim is to make people aware of the role they can play while saving lives and making people´s health better, to encourage people to become voluntary blood donors and promote long-terms programs and campaigns of education of donors to strengthen blood transfusion services.

This year the campaigns ´s topic is “Blood unites us”. It is focused on thanking donors and it emphasizes the relation that exists between donor and patient. The main difficulty is not the lack of blood, but people´s. Around 1 of 5 people who are admitted to the hospital will need blood during the time they will be hospitalized. On the other hand, three lives are saved with every donation.

Any healthy person aged between 18 and 65 years and with a weight superior to 50kg can be a good candidate. During blood donation a person neither gain nor lose weight. For a man, after donating 450 ml, plasma is recovered after 24 hours, red blood cells in around four weeks and iron stock in eight weeks. For a woman the process is the same except for the iron stock that take 12 weeks to recover.

We will be soon on summer vacations, the period in which the reserves of blood banks are lower. On the one hand, people do not donate because they consume more alcoholic drinks than usual and because they are busy with other activities. On the other hand, vacations and trips cause more traffic accidents, increasing transfusions. It raises the demand and this, together with the shortage of donations, reduces the reserves of blood banks.

Our country has a Blood National Program that with a daily and systematic planning that is in correspondence with the assistance necessities of each province has shown positive results. The Committees for the Defense of the Revolution have played a crucial role because it is there where the process of planning starts along with the primary health care centers. The recruitment of people has been successful even though there are many things to do.

Blood donors have their own hymn. It was composed by the Spanish Manuel Vílchez and it was sung for first time in Argentina in 2011. It is about the importance of donating blood: “Blood is the flag that unites us the same; it is the true insignia of an universal race. It is the shared blood that comes from the heart, which gives life to another life without knowing each other”.

The drop of blood that takes between 20 and 60 second to cover your body and reach your heart can be given to someone that only has a few minutes of life. As its hymn says: “To give hope and life is beautiful, and a happy smile is in my face, when I say proud to the world: “I am a blood donor, I am a donor!”

Translator: Daimara Davis Bencomo, English Language student