With the coronavirus restrictions hampered the blood-related activities last year, the Turkish Red Crescent head called for more blood donations amid ongoing normalization from COVID-19.
Monday marks World Blood Donor Day which is observed annually on June 14 with an aim “to raise global awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products for transfusion and of the critical contribution voluntary, unpaid blood donors make to national health systems,” according to the World Health Organization.
It is also an opportunity to call for the action of governments and health authorities to supply resources and launch systems and infrastructures “to increase the collection of blood from voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors,” the global health agency said in a statement on Monday.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, despite limited mobility and other challenges, blood donors in many countries have continued to donate blood and plasma to patients who need transfusion,” the statement added.
As Turkey started its gradual normalization process from coronavirus last month, Kerem Kinik, the head of the Turkish Red Crescent, encouraged people for blood donation in an attempt to catch up with the surgeries which were postponed due to COVID-19 and now begin to be performed.
Last year, numerous lockdowns were imposed across the world to stem the spread of coronavirus. With the movements of blood donors affected, the supply chain was disturbed and the pandemic led to a shortage in the availability of blood for patients, the Turkish official had said.
It also caused a reduction in demand for blood as many patients avoided receiving hospital care during the pandemic.
Kinik said the demand for blood usually decreases in summer, however, it is expected to increase this year with the drop in COVID-19 cases, which renders previously delayed treatments possible.
He urged people to donate blood at Turkish Red Crescent facilities, especially during the summer period.
Blood donation, not urgent but constant need
He added that donors can go to the agency’s website kanver.org and make an appointment at the nearest donation center among 300 facilities across Turkey.
According to Kinik, Turkey needs 3 million units of blood to be donated annually.
“We need to donate 8,000-9,000 units of blood every day. This is not an urgent need, it is a constant need,” he added.
Kinik said approximately 2.5 million units of this amount are covered by the Turkish Red Crescent blood donors, and the rest is provided by nine hospitals with temporary blood collection licenses.
Among many blood donors of the Turkish Red Crescent is Ismail Kaya, who lives in Turkey’s western Izmir province and have donated blood and platelet, also known as thrombocyte, for more than 230 times via the agency.
He was the blood donation record holder for the Turkish Red Crescent in 2019 and 2020.
The 65-year-old electrical engineer told Anadolu Agency that he is planning to donate once a year for the next five years and “end my blood donation story with 242 donations.”
Kaya began donating blood in 1976 when he was a 21-year-old university student in Izmir.
“My nephew needed blood,” he recalled. “Those who need blood know how difficult it is to find it.”
“I believe that every time I donate blood, I also save lives.”
“If everyone donates blood three times in their life, there will be no need for blood in our country,” he said.
According to a 2020 report by the WHO on the global database on blood safety, around 118.4 million blood donations were collected worldwide in 2018.
“40% of these are collected in high-income countries, home to 16 % of the world’s population,” the report said. “About 13,300 blood centers in 169 countries report collecting a total of 106 million donations.”