World Blood Donor Day (WBDD) is celebrated every year around the world on June 14. It marks the birth anniversary of Karl Landsteiner (born on June 14, 1868), who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the ABO blood group system.
The event serves 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. The day also provides an opportunity to appeal to governments and national health authorities to provide adequate resources and put into place systems and infrastructures to increase the collection of blood from voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors.
Safe blood and blood products and their transfusion are a critical aspect of care and public health. They save millions of lives and improve the health and quality of life of many patients every day. The need for blood is universal, but access to blood for all those who need it is not. Blood shortages are particularly acute in developing countries.
To ensure that everyone who needs safe blood has access to it, all countries need voluntary, unpaid donors who give blood regularly. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, despite limited mobility and other challenges, blood donors in many countries have continued to donate blood and plasma to patients who need transfusion. This extraordinary effort during a time of unprecedented crisis highlights the crucial role of well-organized, committed voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors in ensuring a safe and sufficient blood supply during normal and emergency times.
For 2021, the WBDD theme is “Give blood and keep the world beating”. The message highlights the essential contribution blood donors make to keeping the world pulsating by saving lives and improving others’ health. It reinforces the global call to donate blood regularly and contribute to better health.
A special focus of this year’s campaign is the role of young people in ensuring a safe blood supply. In many countries, young people have been at the forefront of activities and initiatives aimed at achieving safe blood supplies through voluntary, non-remunerated blood donations. Young people form a large sector of the population in many societies and are generally full of idealism, enthusiasm and creativity.
The specific objectives of this year’s campaign are to:
- Thank blood donors in the world and create wider public awareness of the need for regular, unpaid blood donation;
- Promote the community values of blood donation in enhancing community solidarity and social cohesion;
- Encourage youth to embrace the humanitarian call to donate blood and inspire others to do the same; and
- Celebrate the potential of youth as partners in promoting health.
Remember: Blood is a necessary resource for the planned treatments and the urgent interventions. It is helpful for patients who are suffering from life-threatening conditions for living longer and with a higher quality of life. It supports complex medical and surgical procedures.