World Blood Donor Day (WBDD) takes place every year on the 14th June, the first was in 2004. It’s one of eight official campaigns support by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The campaign is to raise awareness of the much needed blood and blood products given by voluntary blood donors. The day is also to thank these amazing volunteers for their life saving donations.

World Blood Donor Day takes place on the 14th June as this was Karl Landsteiner’s birthday. Karl Landsteiner was a Nobel Prize winning scientist who discovered the ABO blood group system.

I am extremely grateful to blood giving volunteers as my little boy needed several blood and blood plasma transfusions during his neonatal stay. Without those blood donations our very poorly baby may not have survived.

Giving blood saves lives

Blood is given to patients undergoing routine operations as well as emergency operations. It can be part of pre-planned treatment for expectant mothers or cancer patients. Blood stocks tend to run low quickly in the event of a disaster so volunteers are always welcome.

Medical team walking down a corridor. Photography credit: Luis Melendez
Medical team walking down a corridor. Photography credit: Luis Melendez

The NHS runs a national blood week to encourage blood donation which runs from the 10th to the 16th June. NHS Blood & Transplant (NHSBT) need 400 new blood donors to register every day. We are so lucky to have access to free blood, however NHSBT warns that we take for granted that the blood we need will be available.

Premature babies usually need blood transfusions due to anaemia which is where they struggle to make enough red blood cells. One of the reasons for them getting anaemia is due to the amount of blood tests required that are vital for checking on things like blood gas levels and infection markers.

A premature baby in his incubator
My little boy in his incubator

Other types of transfusions

The other two types of transfusions needed by premature babies are plasma and platelet. Plasma is the yellow liquid that surrounds platelets and red blood cells. Plasma is used to help the blood to clot. Platelet transfusions are to help prevent or stop bleeding. Transfusions are common and although like any medical procedure has a risk but the risk is minimal.

What’s involved to be able to give blood?

The NHS needs about 5000 donations every day to meet the needs of just England. There are a few fixed blood donation centres and more mobile collection teams. Visit www.blood.co.uk to find out where and when you can donate and also if you can donate (there are a few things that might make you not eligible to give blood). It takes about an hour of your time to do and you get a drink and a snack at the end!

If you can get involved this World Blood Donor Day then I want to say a huge thank you. I am so grateful to all those that have donated, your blood helped to save my little boy’s life. He fought really hard to be here and is now 2.5 years old and while he still has some underlying health conditions he is thriving and full of life