Every blood donor is a hero

News release

National Institute of Haematology, Viet Nam

World Blood Donor Day (14 June) will pay tribute to voluntary unpaid donors for their life-saving gift of blood and seek to inspire more people to follow their example.

This year's theme, "Every blood donor is a hero", highlights the underpinning role of voluntary unpaid blood donors in maintaining a safe and adequate blood supply.

"Giving blood is a heroic life-saving act of solidarity to improve the quality of life for patients suffering from life-threatening conditions and to support medical and surgical procedures," says World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for the Western Pacific Dr Shin Young-soo. "The World Health Organization is grateful to all the silent heroes who voluntarily donate blood. I urge all countries in the Region, many of which still suffer blood shortages, to work towards the goal of obtaining all their blood supplies from voluntary blood donors by 2020".

Dr Shin is in Seoul for the World Blood Donor Day 2012 global event on 15 June, hosted by the Korean Red Cross and the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Republic of Korea. To raise awareness about the need for safe blood 3000 people dressed in red will assemble in the shape of a drop of blood. World Blood Donor Day will be marked with events around the world and give gratitude for the heroic acts of voluntary unpaid donors.

The World Health Organization's goal is for all countries to obtain all their blood supplies from voluntary unpaid donors by 2020. The safest blood donors are voluntary unpaid donors from low-risk populations, WHO says.

Globally, 62 countries obtain all their blood supplies from voluntary unpaid donors. However, 40 countries still rely on family and paid donors, with less than 25% of their blood supplies coming from voluntary donors. In the Western Pacific Region, only seven countries (Australia, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore) obtain all their supplies from voluntary donors.

Dr Shin says the need to regularly give blood to prevent shortages in hospitals and clinics cannot be underestimated, particularly in developing countries.

WHO strongly recommends that all blood donations be screened for infection prior to the release of blood and blood components for clinical use.

The WHO World Blood Donor Day Global Network has been established to enable interested parties to share materials and information related to voluntary blood donation.

For more information, please contact:

Mr Paul Rogers
Technical Officer
Health Technical Laboratory
landline: +63 2 528 9028
e-mail: rogersp@wpro.who.int

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