Blood donation low among young people

WHO/Anna Mirowska-Przybył

Over 70% of people aged 18–24 years in the WHO European Region have never given blood; the corresponding figure for the biggest donor group (those aged 40–54) is 54%. Magda Barańska, a 17-year-old student, organized an event on World Blood Donor Day to raise awareness at First High School in Łódź, Poland.

What young people think about giving blood

“I strongly believe that World Blood Donor Day in our school gave students the opportunity to learn new things about blood donation, and confront their knowledge and superstitions with facts delivered by qualified people,” said Magda Barańska.

She hosted some exciting events at her school, such as a day when students and teachers dressed in red and formed the shape of a drop of blood, and researching what blood types were most common in the school’s students. She also organized a conference, at which Jolanta Sieradzan, from the regional blood and transfusion centre, spoke about how blood is donated, who is eligible to donate and how the centre operates.

WHO statement supported initiative

Magda Barańska also read out a statement of support from WHO, that helped highlight the importance of promoting blood donation: “Young people represent the world of tomorrow, and a reserve of health, positive energy and good will. You can donate blood to save others. If you cannot donate, you can still support your friends and colleagues to do so, by acting as advocate. The future lies in your hands.”

Low rates of blood donation in Poland

On average, about 3.7% of the Region’s population have given blood, but there are important differences between countries. The rate of donation in Poland is only 2.5%. WHO’s goal is for all countries, by 2020, to obtain 100% of blood supplies from voluntary unpaid donors and encourage new generations of voluntary donors to maintain supplies of the safest blood possible and save lives.

Magda Barańska and her fellow students now pay attention to the need for blood donations. When they are unable to donate, they encourage others to do so.

“For me it was an unforgettable experience which required a lot of patience. Thanks to WHO’s message we had the feeling of being part of a worldwide family of people celebrating World Blood Donor Day,” she concluded.