World Blood Donor Day is just around the corner (celebrated on June 14th each year), and it’s a timely reminder that the American Red Cross needs blood donations – especially of type O negative (the universal blood type) and type O positive (the most common blood type).
Why is There a Shortage of Type O Blood?
The Red Cross reports that there are only six units of type O blood currently on hand for every 100,000 people, while they need at least twice that amount each day. Officials attribute the shortage to spring and summer vacation schedules. The Red Cross is still reeling from the 11,500 fewer donations of type O they received in April; summer break could further impact donation volume.
Only seven percent of the population is O negative. Since O negative can be universally given to patients of all other blood types, it is what providers use in emergencies. On the other hand, 37 percent of the population is O positive. This makes it the most common blood type among patients, so healthcare professionals also need plenty of O positive blood in supply.
Although there is a critical shortage of type O blood, the Red Cross urges donors of all types to give now, reminding donors that blood is perishable, and that life-threatening trauma continues to occur even during vacation season when donations decline.
And, since World Blood Donor Day is approaching, now is the ideal time to donate your blood and to encourage others to give!
What is World Blood Donor Day?
World Blood Donor Day is June 14 of each year. The observance was established by global health ministers during the 58th World Health Assembly in 2005. The mission of World Blood Donor Day is to “implement and support well organized, nationally-coordinated and sustainable blood programs with appropriate regulatory oversight.”
This year’s theme is “Safe Blood for All” and encompasses several aims:
- To encourage more people worldwide to become regular blood donors
- To establish a strong foundation of sustainable national blood supplies
- To call on governments, health authorities, and blood services for resources and infrastructure
- To provide quality care for donors
- To promote the appropriate use of blood
- To implement oversight and surveillance on the entire chain of blood transfusion
How to Help on World Blood Donor Day and Every Day
If you are a nurse or other healthcare provider, you can educate your patients. You can share how important the blood supply is for both planned procedures and emergencies. You can discuss how an adequate supply of blood ensures that medical providers can uphold the quality and safety of patient care. Moreover, you can remind them that they can play a role in keeping our nation’s blood supply at healthy levels.
Additionally, you can check out the World Health Organization’s suggestions of What You Can Do for World Blood Donor Day to find ideas like organizing activities and disseminating information about the importance of donating blood. Visit their Campaign Materials so you can download a poster, share on social media, or order pins, stickers, t-shirts, etc.
And remember, the simplest way you can make an impact is to give blood today!