World Blood Donation Day

For 2022, the World Blood Donor Day slogan is “Donating blood is an act of solidarity. Join the effort and save lives.” Egyptians are reported to have advocated the use of blood baths for renewal. The Romans were buoyant to imbibe the blood of the fallen antagonist.

Blood is mentioned more than 500 times in the Bible and Quran. Until 15th century, blood was used to treat lunacy, fits, palsy, and melancholia, but not anemia. Blood was given only by mouth till 17th century until the discovery of blood circulation by William Harvey in 1628 which was a triumph and ushered in the modern era of blood transfusion. Annually around 112.5 million units of donated blood are collected globally. Approximately around 13.6 million units of whole blood and red blood cells and nearly 21 million units of blood components are transfused in the US yearly. According to WHO India suffers from an annual 2 millions of blood units as only 1% of Indian population donates blood.

Reportedly in 1665 the first recorded successful blood transfusion happened in England when Physician Richard Lower kept dogs alive by transfusion of blood from other dogs. 1667 Jean-Baptiste Denis in France and Richard Lower in England separately report successful transfusions from lambs to humans. 1818 James Blundell, a British obstetrician, performs the first successful transfusion of human blood to a patient for the treatment of postpartum hemorrhage. Between 1825 and 1830, he performed 10 transfusions, five of which proved beneficial to his patients, and published these results. 1840 Samuel Armstrong Lane, 1867 English surgeon Joseph Lister, 1884 Saline infusion replaces milk as a “blood substitute” due to the increased frequency of adverse reactions to milk, 1900 Karl Landsteiner, an Austrian physician, discovered the first three human blood groups, A, B, and C. Blood type C was later changed to O. His colleagues Alfred Decastello and Adriano Sturli added AB, the fourth type, in 1902. Landsteiner received the Nobel Prize for Medicine for this discovery in 1930.

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1908 French surgeon Alexis Carrel invented anastomosis which paved the way for successful organ transplantation, and received the Nobel Prize in 1912. 1916 Francis Rous and J.R.Turner introduce a citrate-glucose solution that permits storage of blood for several days after collection. This discovery ushered in the establishment of the first blood depot by the British during World War I. Oswald Robertson, an American Army officer, is credited with creating the blood depots. Robertson received the AABB Landsteiner Award in 1958 as developer of the first blood bank. 1932 The first blood bank was set up in a Leningrad hospital. The first hospital blood bank in the United States was established by Bernard Fantus in 1937. Identification of the Rh system in 1939/40 is considered as one of the most important breakthroughs in the field of blood banking. In 1940 The United States government established a nationwide program for the collection of blood. Charles R. Drew develops the “Plasma for Britain” program – a pilot project to collect blood for shipment to the British Isles. The American Red Cross participates, collecting 13 million units of blood by the end of World War II.

In Pakistan, the total number of blood centers is about 18302 with an annual predictable blood collection of 3.5 million. Presently the practice of voluntary blood donation in Pakistan is far from reasonable. According to data collected a few years back from 300 blood banks for WHO global database on blood safety, the estimated blood collection per 1,000 population is 16.6, only 10.6% of people donate blood voluntarily while 88.3% blood donation is by family or friends or as replacement donation. In a developing country like Pakistan, more than 1.5 million bags are required in a year for blood transfusion,3 but unfortunately the rate of blood donation is less than one percent4 which is inadequate to meet the chuck of a country where thalassaemia and anemia are highly prevalent. Someone needs blood every two seconds. About 1 in 7 people entering a hospital need blood. One pint of blood can save up to three lives. Healthy adults who are at least 17 years old, and at least 110 pounds may donate about a pint of blood-the most common form of donation-every 56 days, or every two months. Females receive 53 % of blood transfusions; males receive 47 %. 94 % of blood donors are registered voters.

Blood centers often run short of types O and B red blood cells. 46.5 gallons: amount of blood you could donate if you begin at age 17 and donate every 56 days until you reach 79 years old. You cannot get AIDS or any other infectious disease by donating blood. Blood makes up about 7 percent of your body’s weight. There is a dire need to raise global awareness of blood donation. We must support national blood transfusion services, blood donor organizations and other nongovernmental organizations in empowering and expanding their voluntary blood donor programmes by underpinning national and local campaigns. The world blood donor day calls for social and cultural ambiance with strong harmony facilitating progress of an effective blood donor programme, it is also extensively accredited that the act of blood donation contributes to generating social ties and building a united community. The countries should be encouraged to broadcast assorted media outlets stories of people whose lives have been saved through blood donation as a way of motivating regular blood donors to continue giving blood, and to motivate people in good health who have never given blood to begin doing so. Donors’ appreciation ceremonies, social networking campaigns, special media broadcasts, social media posts featuring individual blood donors with the slogan, meetings and workshops, musical and artistic events to thank blood donors and celebrate solidarity, and coloring iconic monuments.

(The writer is a Prof. in English and Freelance Columnist based in Lahore.)