This year’s World Blood Donor Day falls on 14th June. It is a campaign to raise awareness as to why we should give blood and why timely access to safe blood and blood products is essential for the world we live in.
The focus for this years campaign is on safe blood for saving mothers. A subject of particular interest to me since I wrote about the Save the Children campaign for ending newborn deaths.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) are responsible for the blood donor campaign and are keen to heighten the awareness of why it is so important to have a good supply of blood for mothers during and after childbirth.
Every day, about 800 women die from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications. Severe bleeding during delivery and after childbirth is a major cause of mortality, morbidity and long-term disability. The aim of the WHO campaign is to raise awareness to help people understand why good access to safe blood and blood products is essential for all countries as part of a way to assist with preventing maternal deaths.
There are many reasons why people don’t give blood. But, there is also many reasons how people can overcome the reasons why! Here are just 5 of the excuses and their counter arguments.
1. I am scared of needles.
My main reason if I am honest! However, I recently had to go for a blood test and it helped me realise that it is more the thought of it that is the problem and not the actual test itself. Actually, all you feel is a slight pinch and 7 to 10 minutes it is all over and you can have your tea and biscuits.
2. I am too busy.
The entire time only takes about an hour. If you think about it, that is one hour out of your life to save a mother’s life. A whole hour for a whole lifetime.
3. My blood type isn’t right.
Every single blood group is needed. The most common blood groups are in constant need because there is a constant demand. On the other hand, the rarer blood groups may be in less demand but there is a shorter supply as there are fewer donors.
4. I don’t have blood to spare.
The average body has 10 to 12 pints of blood. Healthy adults can donate blood regularly as the body will quickly replace the blood you have given.
5. I have already given blood this year.
Many donors give blood 5 times a year. A healthy adult may donate every 56 days.
So, how are blood groups defined? I didn’t really know much about my blood type until I was expecting Grace. I am an O negative which, from what I understand, is pretty common with 44% of the population having this blood group. 37% are 0 positive and 7% 0 negative which puts me in the rarer part of that group.
Blood groups are defined by the ABO system.
- blood group A has A antigens on the red blood cells with anti-B antibodies in the plasma
- blood group B has B antigens with anti-A antibodies in the plasma
- blood group O has no antigens but both anti-A and anti-B antibodies in the plasma
- blood group AB has both A and B antigens but no antibodies
Pregnant women are always tested for their blood group type. The reason for this is because if they are a negative type – like me – but the baby inherits a positive type – like Grace – it could cause complications if they are left untreated. This is the reason why I had to have an injection after Grace was born, just in case any anti-bodies are left behind. If I hadn’t had the injection and I were to fall pregnant again then it may cause serious problems with the new baby.
Benenden Health have carried out a survey around giving blood and have uploaded some interesting results here alongside an infographic and lots more informative articles to read up on around World Blood Donor Day and giving blood.
So you see, there are many reasons why we can and should give blood. Maybe one day you will need a transfusion…lets make sure that there is a good supply.
In association with Beneden Health