World Blood Donor Day, sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO), is just around the corner on June 14. This year’s theme focuses on blood donations for emergencies. If you’re reading this column then you are well aware the blood that is available for emergent situations and after tragic events is the blood that was already on the shelf at the hospital or blood center, collected and processed days earlier. In fact, recently after the tragic incidents in Manchester, U.K., an official from the NHS Blood and Transplant system implored the thousands of people reading The Guardian who wanted to help should become “regular” blood donors so the country could “make sure we are again ready for any major incident.” One of the stated objectives of World Blood Donor Day is “to build wider public awareness of the need for committed, year-round blood donation, in order to maintain adequate supplies”. While this is indeed something that we all are in alignment with, what is not clear is how we get there. Maybe it’s time to change the conversation. As individual blood centers we try to break through the bombardment of marketing messages donors take in on World Blood Donor Day, but how do we continue with that conversation all year long? How do we leverage the power of our collective efforts through ABC to create the awareness and sense of urgency that turns episodic blood donors into regular blood donors?
I would suggest that creating lifelong blood donors is a year-round, day-in, day-out activity. Just as each blood donor or potential blood donor is a unique individual, so our efforts should be unique in how we engage them. Perhaps our call to action should be as ubiquitous as our electronic devices that we can’t live without. I’m reminded hourly to breathe and stand and walk around by my fitness device, I’m reminded when it’s time to start getting ready for bed (as if I need a reminder for that), I’m updated several times a day on how the stock market is performing, and the latest news, and I’m rudely jarred awake each morning by an electronic device. What new and bold actions will it take to jar the public into action?
No matter what, I think we can all agree that the WHO through World Blood Donor Day—whether we celebrate it as a day, a week or a way of life—has created a call to action that captures the essence of what is needed: What can you do? Give blood. Give now. Give often. Happy World Blood Donor Day!
Delisa English; Board Member; CEO and President of The Blood Connection