World Blood Donor Day is celebrated annually on June 14th. Since 2005, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have led a joint celebration aimed to raise awareness about the importance of regular blood donations and thank blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood. Regular blood donations help combat critical blood shortages and maintain a sustainable bank of blood and blood products, including plasma and platelets. Blood, plasma, and platelets are essential for routine procedures, patients battling diseases, and traumatic events.
The importance of blood donations
In the United States, someone will need a blood donation every two seconds. Without the generosity of blood donors making regular donations, blood and blood product supplies would be scarce, causing people who need transfusions to become seriously ill or even die. Those who benefit from blood transfusion treatments include trauma patients, cancer patients, burn victims, sickle cell patients, and those with chronic diseases. In maintaining a steady blood supply, hospitals can ensure patients have immediate access to these life-saving treatments.
Blood transfusions as treatment
In assisting individuals applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, we have seen the impact blood transfusions can have on a wide range of conditions. In honor of World Blood Donor Day, below we’ve highlighted several common conditions listed on SSDI benefit applications that may each require or benefit from a blood transfusion. Though the purpose of the transfusion may differ, the target result is often the same – a more stable and healthier patient.
As research surrounding COVID-19 continues to grow, options for available treatment have increased and evolved. Since the pandemic began, physicians have been utilizing plasma from those with COVID-19 antibodies to boost the immune systems of those patients fighting the disease. COVID-19 convalescent plasma collected from whole blood, platelet, or plasma donations may benefit the immunocompromised or those unable to develop their own antibodies. For these individuals, receiving a transfusion of convalescent plasma may dramatically increase their ability to fight COVID-19, reduce the severity of the disease, and lessen the chance of repeat infection.
Sickle Cell Disease
For individuals with Sickle Cell Disease, early detection and treatment are the best chance for a more favorable prognosis. Treatment options can vary among individuals, but blood transfusions are common in the overall management of the disease. Due to potential transfusion-related complications, if an exact blood-type match is not available, it is best to use a donation with the closest possible blood type. Whole blood, platelet, or plasma donations with antigens that match the patient are most helpful in reducing anemia and mitigating the chances of stroke by providing the patient with healthy red blood cells.
While not often thought of as a common cancer treatment, blood transfusions can provide cancer patients with support throughout their battle. In some instances, the disease itself may cause anemia or low blood counts, but cancer treatments themselves may also cause a patient to require a transfusion. The type of transfusion can vary based upon the type of cancer or treatment involved. Whole blood or plasma donations are helpful, but platelet donations may provide the most relief. Many cancer patients are unable to produce their own platelets or cannot produce the amount needed to clot blood. If blood does not clot, more serious conditions may develop, especially in those with low blood counts.
Donating blood is an act of solidarity.
WHO and IFRC have joined forces to highlight the importance of unity in the blood donation process and have released the 2022 World Blood Donor Day slogan: “Donating blood is an act of solidarity. Join the effort and save lives.” This year’s campaign serves to draw attention to the important connection between a donor and the recipient. A blood donor is an individual providing a life-saving service to someone they will likely never know. In choosing to donate blood, while you may never see the benefit of your donation, the knowledge that you are saving a life is powerful.
Find a donation center near you to join the effort and save lives.
Nothing in this post is considered medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.