Blood donors are lifesavers

blood letting July 7, 2023 (Noel Pabalate).jpg
FILE PHOTO shows members of the Pentecostal Missionary Church of Christ donate blood during the launch of the nationwide bloodletting dubbed 'Give Blood Give Love Save Lives' in partnership with the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) in Mandaluyong City in 2023. (Manila Bulletin)



Every time an ambulance races down the road with sirens wailing, chances are, somebody’s life is on the line. In the hospital, more lives are at stake.
Patients undergoing surgery, as well as those suffering from chronic renal disease that requires dialysis, mothers going through a complicated delivery such as Cesarean section, people fighting dengue and leukemia, and victims of accidents and traumas all need one thing to survive: blood.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that for a country to have an adequate blood supply, one percent of its total population must donate blood each year. In geographically isolated areas nationwide, many Filipinos and hospitals still have limited access to adequate and reliable blood supply.

The importance of this body fluid to life itself cannot be underestimated. Blood transports oxygen and nutrients to the lungs and tissues. It carries cells and antibodies that fight infection; brings waste products to the kidneys and liver, which filter and clean the blood; forms blood clots to prevent excess blood loss; and regulates body temperature.

Blood is life, indeed. On June 9, 1997, then-President Fidel V. Ramos issued Proclamation 1021 declaring July of every year as Blood Donors Month. Ramos, back then a regular blood donor himself, understood the importance of voluntarily giving blood as a humanitarian act that saves lives.
Who can donate blood, and how often?

According to WHO, blood can be donated by people who are healthy and do not have an infection that may be transmitted through their blood.
Basic requirements of a potential blood donor in the Philippines, says the Department of Health (DOH), include:

Weight: At least 50 kg.
Blood volume collected will depend mainly on your body weight.
Pulse rate: Between 60 and 100 beats/minute with a regular rhythm.
Blood pressure: Between 90 and 160 systolic, and 60 and 100 diastolic.
Hemoglobin: At least 125 g/L.

Aside from helping save lives, blood donors also benefit from this act. They experience a sense of pleasure, peace, and bliss. After 24 to 48 hours, new blood forms in the blood donor’s body. Blood circulation improves, and the body is more resistant to diseases.

Nobody will be denied blood when needed, said Richard Gordon, chairman and CEO of the Philippine Red Cross, the country’s largest humanitarian organization, provides round-the-clock blood services nationwide.

The Red Cross says anyone who is eligible to give blood may donate every three months. Its National Blood Services provides adequate, safe, and quality blood supply — always accessible especially to the most vulnerable.

It conducts education, advocacy, and recruitment sessions to encourage regular blood donations from communities, workplaces, government/non-government agencies, civic organizations, churches, and schools nationwide.

In 2023, the Red Cross recorded a total of 465,675 blood donors. From that number, the Red Cross collected 538,666 blood units and dispensed 549,353 blood units — contributing 49 percent to the country’s blood requirement.

One unit of blood can save the lives of up to three people.

Also in 2023, the Red Cross’ Blood Samaritan Program assisted 36,040 patients free of charge.

Recently, it formally started networking its blood supply directly to hospitals, such as Cardinal Santos Medical Center and St. Luke’s Medical Center. Hopefully more hospitals will join the arrangement, so that patients won’t have to go out of their way to get blood.

For 2024, the Red Cross is observing Blood Donors Month with the theme, “Celebrate Giving: Thank You, Blood Donors!”

Blood donors are lifesavers.

(The author is the Communication Department manager of Philippine Red Cross.)