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Interview with Tigran Muradyan

The Universities for medicine are and have always been the leading force in the donor program. From their student days, doctors pay special attention to the blood donation, and not only conduct scientific work, but also look for new ways to tell society about the meaning of it. It is a non-standard approach to the popularization of blood donation that gives development to the program - so says Tigran Muradyan, head of the Donor Committee of the Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University.

Your donor program won in four nominations of the “Souchastie” award 2018. Please accept our sincere congratulations! What does this award and recognition of colleagues mean to you?

Thank you for congratulations. I am grateful to the National Foundation for Health Development - the founder of the award - for the recognition and appreciation of our work. This award is important both for those who just rejoined donor program, initiative groups, funds, and for experienced participants. To the first award brings the opportunity to get to know with the best, unique, non-standard and successful practices of the donor program, and to the second gives drive to keep up and progress. Of great importance are round tables that are held before the solemn ceremony. They allow representatives of initiative groups, non-profit organizations, universities, doctors and specialists of blood centers, representatives of the Ministry of Health and the Federal Medical and Biological Agency of Russia to discuss issues of concern, come to common ground and find solutions without bureaucratic procedures.

You have brought many interesting, creative ideas to the donor program. When and why did you realize to look for new approaches in blood donation to achieve a result?

When I just started in 2010, the aim of our team was to wide spread the idea of blood donation among our students, explain the principals and dispel myths. To make a long story short, we wanted to get blood donation into the habit and make donors attract new people. We did it rather fast, for 2-3 years. But we also understood, that donorship should not become a routine and fall by the wayside, scientific data and donor’s days were not enough. With the help of latest trends in marketing such important movement should be promoted. We have created brand and style for it (logo, slogan, uniform) and started to present information for first-year students in a bright manner, organized counseling centers on donation, launched creative advertising through all communication channels, created DonorTV, began to provide donor days in the dormitories during the holidays. Besides that, launched unique souvenirs, gift cards in a medical theme, opened electronic registration for donors, organized flash mobs, created escape rooms, quizzes and much more. Such diversity and seasonal innovations make it possible to interest more and more potential donors.

It is important that successful promo actions run and run, and the positive experience is passed on to other organizers and volunteers. How to achieve this?

For example, with the help of “Souchastie” award. It is a contest with the main goal to show the positive experience, successful projects. The competitive spirit and exchange of best practices helps to succeed. It is only important not to turn all this into competition. We cooperate very close with our colleagues - the organizers of the donor program from the A.I. Yevdokimov Moscow State University of Medicine and Dentistry, the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI (Moscow Engineering Physics Institute), the Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, the National Research University Higher School of Economics, the charity fund "Obraz zhizni". We tell about our innovations and help with the implementation, as well as learn something new from them. There is also a cross functional platform - the Forum of the donor program managers. Here you can find out more about best practices, marketing channels and exchange contacts. This is the only way to make a well-being donor program.

What are peculiarities of donor program organization in a University? What kind of resources are applicable for providing successful and day-to-day donor actions?

Students are the most community-minded group. They are ready to change the world, to make it better place. No matter what they study. These are adult healthy people with no family, work or any other concerns. Yesterday they wanted to become adults, and today they are. That means not only rights, but also responsibilities, for others also That is why promo actions in universities, by my opinion, are the most successful form of donor campaigns. Our students — future medics — already know a lot about blood and blood donation at entry. Many have internships in hospitals where patients after blood transfusions are treated. Some students are from families of doctors, some parents, grandparents are donors. That’s a clear example. We can only provide information in a correct and creative way, align the knowledge, tell about the needs for blood and components, create conditions for all who want to become a donor. It is important to find support in an administration of university, to explain that donation, although not directly beneficial to the university, is definitely useful for society. In case of success you need to attract all the resources. This is not only about money, but more about human resources. First of all, this is a team of like-minded people - students, employees who are ready to help in events. The second very important human resource is the professors, and management. They are a significant example for students.

How important is the exchange of experience in blood donation? Do you learn more about the experience of other universities, volunteer initiatives, charity funds, blood transfusion stations?

Sharing of best practices on forums, meetings is the right way of development. We also need new ideas for sure. Communication with colleagues provides an opportunity to find out more creative solutions. With some changes these ideas are also applicable for us. We are looking for new ideas on a regular basis. Blood centers are, in fact, “customers” who carry out events in a wide variety of institutions. Sometimes the blood centers provide information of promo actions they liked.

Enlightenment is a key factor in search of new donors. How to inform people in an effective manner about blood donation?

The most important thing is an information availability. It’s about both quantity and quality. If we mean printed materials, posters, outdoor advertising, it should be eye-catching picture and simple text, infographics. Nothing extra, no double meaning. Social networks are on top. There are gigabytes of information in social media, but only 5% bring a sense. Therefore, the text should be brief, drawing attention to stop and read, and maybe subscribe to our page. Video stories from donors work well. We have recently begun taking blood samples for HLA typing during the donor campaign and decided to present videos from our students who know about firsthand. One of them withstood bone marrow transplant, the other despite the age of 19 y.o. donated stem cells to a kid. True life stories motivate people very well.

And our traditional question: what would you wish to donors and people, who are going to join donor program?

I would like to wish good health to donors, as they share it to others, so let them be of healthy constitution! To people who are going to join, I wish brave to make first step into such compassionate program!

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