Saving lives: The importance of giving blood

World Today

Damon Friedburg donates bloodDamon Friedburg of Orlando shows his son Kellen, 12, how he is giving blood at the OneBlood center in Orlando, Monday, June 13, 2016. Area blood centers are crowded with donors who are giving blood in the wake of the Pulse nightclub massacre on Sunday, in Orlando, Fla. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

As recent images in Orlando and nationwide have shown, sometimes the most important way of helping your fellow human being is the most basic.

When news of the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub began to spread, friends, neighbors, strangers alike rushed to the nearest Red Cross or medical center to ensure the victims being treated would not die for lack of available blood.

In wartime, periods of local or humanitarian crisis, giving blood is not only a symbol for unity – it is the difference between life and death.

Once a year, the World Health Organization (WHO) commemorates World Blood Donor Day as a way of reminding that, while we may never personally meet those who benefit from our blood donation, our simple act of generosity can save millions of lives around the world.

Such is the theme for WHO’s Blood Donor Day this year:

Despite what most people believe, the demand for donated blood is not for times of emergency. In the third word, most blood is needed to reduce rates of death and disability due to severe bleeding during delivery and after childbirth.

The WHO also hopes to increase its base for global voluntary (non-paid/non-family) blood donations to 100 percent to ensure an adequate supply is available BEFORE any any crisis requires it. 62 countries collect 100 percent of blood supply from voluntary unpaid blood donors.

But in 72 countries, mostly third-world, less than 50 percent of blood supplies come from voluntary unpaid donors, with much of their blood supply still dependent on family/replacement and paid blood donors.

Though giving blood is an incredibly simple procedure, consistent donors are still hard to come by. WHO estimates that if just one percent of any nation’s population gave blood on an annual basis, that country’s needs would be more that be adequately met.

As much of the world still depends upon foreign donations to complete their clean blood supply, it is a good day to remember your donation may go around the world in saving lives.