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The number of blood donations in Russia is approaching to European figures

About some results of the promotion Program of voluntary blood donation in our country.

BLOOD SERVICE: Ms. Grishina, the promotion program of voluntary blood donation has been functioning for the fourth year now. Tell us, please, how it is implemented. Are you satisfied with its results? Should the program be continued in future?

OLGA GRISHINA: Every year in Russia 1.5 million people need blood transfusion. Cardiosurgery, oncology, injuries, accidents, burns, childbirth, armed conflicts – blood is absolutely necessary. It can’t be bought or replaced by any medical technologies. However there were no people to attract donors in our country until recent time: patients’ relatives had to find them.

Today we can draw some satisfactory conclusions of the promotion program of voluntary blood donation which has been implemented in our country since 2008. I think that nobody would say that our efforts were vain. If we take that blood donation is actively developing only there where it is an institutional setting, than we understand that the Federal Medical-Biological Agency and the Ministry of Health and Social Development of Russia practically had to analyze and create the blood donation network from scratch.
It will hardly be an overstatement to say that this Program is unique concerning its span and social significance. Its results are not popular brands but saved lives. Why the number of blood donors in our country has dropped to a critical level? How can we give back the respect to donors?

Which step should we take next? To answer these and many other questions major social surveys have been made.

 It was found that the idea of blood donation in social consciousness is rather understandable and popular. The notions of compassion and help do still exist. In collective consciousness, half of people, have the main motivation of becoming donor not to earn money, but to help people.

The results of the survey once more assured us that only thoroughly aware, conscientious, morally and physically healthy person, sincerely willing to help is able to become fully fledged blood donor. For the first time in Russian history a consolidated campaign including advertising, trainings, professional forums and dozens of other events, has been carried out in the framework of the program.

The ideas of promotion program put in original and understandable form made it clear for our people the importance of blood donation, informed them about generosity, dignity, virtue  of people donating blood, called for compassion and  humanity, managed to reach the bottoms of the hearts.

The program has made it possible to coordinate and unite efforts of very different people: officials, doctors, donors, volunteers, public figures. The program has drawn a wide public response. It practically stirred the society, helped to attract to the donor movement people who hadn’t even thought about being a blood donor.

The program has completed its immediate task – to wake up the public, but today we have to decide what to do next, as the problem is not solved yet.
Владимир Уйба, руководитель Федерального медико-биологического агентства

Olga Grishina, Head of the Blood Center of the Federal Medical-Biological Agency

As a head of the applied facility for blood stocking I can see that without constant advertising the public interest to the problem of donor blood deficit is somehow waning. According to surveys 35% of respondents say that they have already been donors, 20% of Russian people declare that they are thinking about becoming blood donors. However the real number of blood donors is a bit more than 1%. And I believe that we still have to work out some solid mechanisms to make the people’s willingness to help by being donors constant.

I am deeply convinced that in near future such events of the promotion program as TV advertising, souvenirs, operation of the website “YADONOR” and telephone “hotline”, must be continued.

BLOOD SERVICE: Last year results show that we have an average of 14 blood donors per thousand people. Is it many or few? How does it look if compared with other countries?

OLGA GRISHINA: Indeed in the Russian Federation we have a number of blood donors per thousand people as the indicator of donors’ activity. Recently it has had only a slight tendency to growth and constitutes about 14 people per thousand.

Maybe I am expressing a paradoxical idea but I do think that this figure should not grow significantly. I’ll try to explain.

I think today there is no need in convincing anybody in the importance of repeated blood donation. There is a much lower degree of infections transmitted through blood among repeated donors, the blood of such donors is the safest because of regular tests and looking after their health. Moreover the modern system of plasma quarantine is only possible when the donor comes repeatedly to the blood transfusion station.

Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the Blood Service specialists and our partners promoting blood
donation, the tendency of increasing the number of repeated donors has been lately especially remarkable. In other words, if a donor used to donate blood or plasma just once, now the number of donors who donate blood more than once has been growing significantly.

According to the data from the Russian Scientific Research Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion, in recent years there has been a steady tendency towards the growing number of donations – giving of blood or its components. From the beginning of our donor program implementation the number of blood donations has been growing by an average of 6-7% a year and approaches European figures – in 2010 in Russia there was registered an average of 25.6 blood donations per thousand people.

That means that with almost the same number of donors we have more stocked blood because of the growth of repeated donations from our donors. I think that it is much better than if it were vice-versa – many donors, giving blood only once in a lifetime.

BLOOD SERVICE: How do you assess the blood provision in medical facilities in Russia? Is it still a deficit situation? If there is a sharp need of blood in some remote areas and not in a big city, is there a real threat for the patient to die of lack of donor blood?

OLGA GRISHINA: Today the situation with blood provision for those in need is more often very difficult exactly in big cities, as there are large federal hospitals and people from all over Russia go there for treatment. Somewhere in remote areas the situation with blood components provision is not so problematic.
In a number of regions we even have some “surplus” of blood components. This extra blood is transferred to Moscow to overcome the deficit we still have here.

For truth’s sake I should say that the Moscow Blood Service only recently has started implementation of its own blood donor promotion program providing donors, giving blood in the Blood Service facilities under the Healthcare Department of Moscow, with the wide range of social support measures. Let’s wait a bit for the results of this program.

BLOOD SERVICE: Has the age level of regular donors changed as of today? Several years ago the most of regular donors were people “above 35”, and what is the situation now? How actively are young people involved in blood donation?

OLGA GRISHINA: That’s a good question. I take special delight in youth involvement in donor movement. It’s wonderful that in general our donor contingent has recently become significantly younger, that there are so many concerned people among students, the military, young business-people, different youth organizations. We cooperate actively with all these groups of people.

I would like to make an example of our recent campaign carried out with the participation of well-known people, athletes and public figures during the youth forum on Seliger. During 2 days our unit came there, they were able stock 262 dozes of blood.

When such a number of young and strong boys and girls, who I hope are the future of our country, are ready to sacrifice a part of themselves to save lives of other people, the energy of youth and enthusiasm pours into us – the Blood Service staff – too, and we want to make more good things and be inspired.

It’s wonderful that the leadership of our country understands the importance of work with young people and creates such much needed projects.

BLODD SERVICE: What would you like to say to donors and those who don’t give blood yet, but are thinking about it?

OLGA GRISHINA: I’ll try to give a very short answer. Donate blood. It’s not painful to give blood, it’s painful to be in need of it.
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