7 June 2004
A worldwide campaign to increase the number of volunteers who regularly donate safe blood will be launched in Johannesburg, South Africa on the first ever World Blood Donor Day on 14 June.
The United Nations World Health Organisation (WHO) has chosen the SA National Blood Service (SANBS) out of all other blood transfusion services worldwide to officially host the event.
“South Africa’s national blood service has achieved 100 percent voluntary blood donation”, the WHO said in announcing the choice of SA for the official launch of its “Blood, a gift for life” campaign.
“A sufficient supply of safe blood is one of the cornerstones of a good health care system and a powerful tool for preventing the transmission of disease”, the WHO said. “Yet most countries in the world experience a shortage of blood in their hospitals and health care facilities. Others have faced problems with infected blood.”
The main launch of World Blood Donor Day will be held in Johannesburg in partnership with the SANBS and the Nelson Mandela Foundation. The day will be celebrated with music and entertainment, and will honour a group of young South Africans who regularly donate blood, known as “Club 25”.
Events and activities will be organised across the world, uniting in a global celebration.
SANBS medical director Robert Crookes said the Blood Transfusion Services of South Africa had a proud record of providing safe blood to patients for more than 70 years.
In the past four years alone, Crookes said, over 2 000 donors had reached a milestone of 100 donations and over 350 individuals had given over 200 donations.
Crookes said there were 18 donors in the country that had given more than 300 donations.
“In fact, we believe that the world record for whole blood donations … is currently held by a South African, who has donated an incredible 342 blood donations, and is still donating”, Crookes said.
Crookes said statistics from around the world show that despite significant improvements in recent years, over 70 countries still do not test all donated blood for at least one of the major infections that can be transmitted to patients.
“This is another reason why the safety of the blood supply in South Africa compares favourably with that of other industrialised countries”, he said.
World Blood Donor Day events on 14 June are being planned by local organisations with the collaboration of the WHO, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Federation of Blood Donor Organizations, and the International Society of Blood Transfusion.