NEW YORK, May 23rd, 2012
Each year, millions of people around the world generously donate their blood, but donation rates are not constant and the demand for blood products and blood is growing. To meet this demand, voluntary, regular blood donations must increase. The need for blood is rising along with global life expectancies and the resulting growth in chronic, age-related diseases whose treatments require blood products and blood. The shortage in supply is further exacerbated by the short shelf-life of certain blood products, like platelets, which must be used within five days of donation.
Blood transfusions save lives every day. The treatment is needed for all major surgeries, cancer treatments, uncontrolled bleeding due to road traffic accidents, childhood anemia, complications that arise during pregnancy and childbirth, trauma, congenital blood disorders and other serious medical concerns. In many areas of the world, current systems lack the ability to meet patients’ needs. In other areas, increasing health coverage and expansion of health care access increases the demand for blood products and blood.
The current blood supply is largely maintained by over 90 million people that voluntarily donate each year. Unfortunately, one-third of these donors give blood just once, then never return. Regular, repeat donors are essential to maintaining and increasing the world’s blood supply. Donating regularly can help ensure that the blood supply is reliable and safe.
Currently, 62 countries meet their blood supply needs, and others are rapidly making progress. Vietnam, for instance, has increased blood donations to account for nearly 90 precent of its needs in the last decade. Other countries, like the Cook Islands, have increased their blood donations by targeting health workers through education campaigns and encouraging donors to give regularly. More than 400 people of the Islands’ population of 20,000 now donate blood regularly, a drastic increase from the 70 that donated repeatedly just a few years ago.