That one gift that saves three lives

14th June is World Blood Donor Day.

In 2023, Malta collected 19,238 bags of blood from 9,802 active donors. Each donation can save three lives by providing red cells, platelets, and plasma. This was explained by Caroline Cassar, Senior Staff Nurse at the National Blood Transfusion Centre.

Twenty years ago, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared 14th June as World Blood Donor Day. This day raises awareness about the need for blood and its safe products, while thanking voluntary donors who are not paid for their gift, with which they save so many lives.

“We urge every donor to continue donating blood regularly — men every three months and women every four months — so that the blood reserve is sustainable, ensuring patients receive blood on time and operations are not cancelled due to low reserves,” Caroline explained.

She added that patients with thalassemia receive four bags every four weeks and dialysis patients require regular transfusions due to kidney failure. “We must also not forget cancer and haematology patients (blood cancer). These patients take three out of five bags from the blood reserves we collect,” Caroline continued. “We, therefore, insist that 50 donors attend every day, regardless of their blood group, so that the reserve does not decrease and patients do not suffer.”

The most common blood group in Malta is A positive, followed by O positive, while O negative is the universal donor, meaning everyone can receive it. Two bags from the O negative group are taken out with an emergency doctor during major accidents to provide immediate blood transfusions if necessary.

Celebrating World Blood Donor Day helps to establish a culture of regular blood donations among young people and the broader population, ensuring a sustainable blood reserve and improving the quality of life for transfusion-dependent patients. This year’s theme is ‘20 Years of Celebrating Giving: Thank you, Blood Donors!’.

Caroline explained that this anniversary is “an opportunity to thank blood donors around the world for their donations, which have saved lives over the years, apart from honouring the profound impact on both patients and donors.”

It is also a timely moment to address ongoing challenges to ensure the blood reserves remain sustainable, so patients receive blood on time.

To donate blood:

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– Telephone: 79307307, 80074313

– Email: [email protected]

Photo: Puwadon Sang-ngern

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