Six Days

Swiss Transfusion SRC updates the status of donated blood on its website every day. By doing so, the organisation underscores the importance of blood – our elixir of life. As of 23 April 2024, for example, the blood supply for the blood group O negative would still be covered for six days. Donating blood is an altruistic gesture that helps other people in extreme need. That’s all there is to it.

Regu­lar blood tests are a preven­tive measure. It’s a free health check, as the website explains. And yet, it is harder now than it used to be to moti­vate first-time donors to give blood regu­larly. ‘Only 2.5 per cent of the Swiss popu­la­tion regu­larly gives blood,’ points out Fran­ziska Kellen­ber­ger, Head of Marke­ting and Commu­ni­ca­ti­ons at Swiss Trans­fu­sion SRC. ‘That’s not enough to cover the over­all demand for blood in Switz­er­land; we urgen­tly need new donors to meet the daily demand in future,’ she empha­si­ses. The orga­ni­sa­tion is always looking for new young donors to complete its donor base. The person­nel and finan­cial resour­ces requi­red for marke­ting acti­vi­ties has increased considerably.

Every dona­tion counts

Around 73 per cent of people in Switz­er­land have blood type A posi­tive or O posi­tive. For this reason, it is these two blood types that are needed the most. ‘Every blood type is valuable and needed,’ empha­si­ses Fran­ziska Kellen­ber­ger. Blood type O nega­tive is parti­cu­larly sought-after, she explains. It is a special blood type that is parti­cu­larly rare. ‘It is tole­ra­ted by all other groups and can be used imme­dia­tely as a univer­sal dona­tion for all pati­ents in an emer­gency.’ Conver­sely, pati­ents with blood type O nega­tive can only tole­rate their own blood type.

Who is giving blood?

Today, there is a donor base with many loyal donors. In total, 263,702 blood dona­ti­ons were made in 2023. Howe­ver, the number of donors falls every year. ‘As a rule, all healthy people who are between the ages of 18 and 75 and weigh more than 50 kg can give blood,’ says Fran­ziska Kellen­ber­ger. ‘The maxi­mum age for a first dona­tion is 60.’ Howe­ver, there are other factors to consider. Nowa­days, people travel far and frequently; they go on holi­day to fara­way count­ries with a high risk of infec­tion – for exam­ple with mala­ria, dengue fever, Zika or West Nile virus – or to count­ries in Europe where certain viru­ses are circu­la­ting; as a result, they are tempo­r­a­rily ineli­gi­ble to give blood. There are also seaso­nal fluc­tua­tions: on a hot summer’s day, people prefer to go to the swim­ming pool than the blood dona­tion centre.

There are eleven regio­nal blood dona­tion services respon­si­ble for coll­ec­ting and proces­sing blood and supp­ly­ing hospi­tals with blood products. There are basi­cally two ways of coll­ec­ting blood. Around half of the dona­ti­ons are made via mobile blood drives in around 1,000 loca­li­ties; the other half are made at the 36 fixed blood dona­tion centres. Switz­er­land has a well-estab­lished network of volun­teers and orga­ni­sa­ti­ons that carry out blood drives. The bene­fits are clear and imme­diate, which makes it all the more surpri­sing that orga­ni­sa­ti­ons have to compete so stron­gly for public atten­tion. Their campaigns have included ‘Blut spen­den – Leben retten’ (‘Give blood – save lives’) and ‘Share your #giving­blood story’. It quickly beco­mes clear that these campaigns are all about real stories, perso­nal expe­ri­en­ces and life-chan­ging events.

High-precis­ion monitoring

In Switz­er­land, around 700 blood dona­ti­ons are needed every day, for cancer pati­ents, acci­dent victims and people with blood disor­ders. Blood can only be stored for a limi­ted time. That’s why regu­lar blood dona­ti­ons are essen­tial, as well as a moni­to­ring system that shows precis­ely what, when, how and where; a real chall­enge when only 2.5 per cent of the popu­la­tion gives blood regu­larly. Today, 23 April 2024, the baro­me­ter shows that the supply of blood type O nega­tive is running low. This means that there is curr­ently enough of this blood type for another six days, barely cove­ring the requi­red blood supply. Swiss Trans­fu­sion SRC welco­mes your donation!

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