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Interview with Irina Razinkina

The number of donors has declined sharply in the Blood Service institutions during the pandemic, but the Spartak football club came to the patients' rescue. The Red and White ones managed to quickly organize and carry out the event "Dignity is in our blood", the players and fans of the club responded to the call and saved many lives. Irina Razinkina, the head of the "SPARTAK for Children" Foundation, told us about the details of campaign.

Your foundation helps children with injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal system. When did you pay attention to blood donation and decided to carry out the event "Dignity is in our blood"?

This decision came right on time. In March, we crossed into some different reality, however, the coronavirus pandemic has significantly affected social spheres of life. We became aware of a difficult situation at the Donor Blood Center of the Dmitry Rogachev National Medical Research Center of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Immunology. Despite the restrictions, their doctors continued to work as usual as the little patients needed blood every day. Due to quarantine, the flow of donors has cut fourfold, so the parents of sick children and the staff of the medical center donated blood themselves, but this was barely enough to carry out all the operations and continue the treatment of children. We decided to support the Rogachev Center and called on our fans to prove once again that we are all one big red and white family. This is how the action "Dignity is in our blood" began.

How was the event organized and how many people took part?

We regularly published all information about the campaign on the websites and in social networks of the Spartak for Children Foundation and the Spartak-Moscow Football Club, and described in detail the current situation with regard to blood supplies in each of the partner centers, the number of which increased to six. These are the Dmitry Rogachev Center, the A.N.Bakulev Center for Cardiovascular Surgery, the Blood Center of the Federal Biomedical Agency of Russia, Transfusion Department Of Skliphosovskiy Research Institute , Blood Center named after O.K. Gavrilov, Morozov Children's City Clinical Hospital. Our call has received widespread support by the federal and regional press. Fans and players of "Spartak" also shared publications in social networks. We worked only with donor centers in Moscow, but every day we received messages from all over Russia. By the end of the first week of the campaign, it turned out that, despite the restrictions, about forty red and white donors had already come to the blood centers. It became clear that the fans should definitely be rewarded with tickets to Spartak's home matches when the situation is normalized. Every day more and more caring people joined our initiative, so the campaign was extended until the end of May. They did not wait until the restrictions were completely lifted: as the Russian Premier League allowed clubs to host ten percent of the spectators of the stadium's capacity, our donors were notified that they could finally come to home matches. In August, fans, upon presentation of a blood donation certificate, attended Spartak's games at Otkritie Arena free of charge. As a result, we accepted more than eighty people. Although, of course, there were much more donors - about two hundred.

It is quite difficult to organize people during quarantine. How did you manage?

Diseases were not under quarantine. We believed that our fans would not remain indifferent to other people's troubles. Especially when it comes to children. We have a huge, friendly and very close-knit family of fans, word of mouth has fully worked here. The best that could have happened was to receive a message from one of the donor centers after a couple of weeks of the action: “Thank you, Spartak has completely covered our blood needs!”

Spartak has the largest army of fans. Did you expect them to come or a wider audience?

We really hoped for a response of people, no matter which team they support. Yes, we are the first football team in the country to support donation on such a large scale during quarantine, but this was not an end in itself. There was confidence that the human resource in a pandemic situation would work and that help would come faster. Spartak's initiative was taken up by fans of other clubs as well - the football community, united in a situation of force majeure, worked for the common good.

What gifts did donors receive from the club?

Each red-and-white donor received a pleasant surprise after blood donation in partner donor centers - cards with autographs of the club's players. And, of course, the main gift – in August, each donor, upon presentation of a blood donation certificate at the box office, was given a ticket to Spartak's home match.

How didi the club's media resources help in attracting donors?

We used all possibilities of Spartak: the website, social networks, support of the club's celebrity fans and football players, friendly sports and social media and bloggers. Many fans were inspired by the personal example of team captain Georgy Dzhikia and goalkeeper Artem Rebrov, who donated blood at the Rogachev Center and Skliphosovskiy Research Institute. We were also supported by the Spartak rugby team - they donated blood almost in full force in our partner centers. As a thank to donors at home matches in August, we greeted them with videos and messages on the Otkritie Arena scoreboard and led panels, as well as on the stadium's external media facade. At the beginning of each match, spectators at the stadium greeted our heroes with thunderous applause.

Will the donor movement now become a tradition of the foundation?

Of course, the tradition of cooperation with donor centers will continue, this area of work has become indefinite. We intend to go beyond Moscow and bring our experience throughout the country, since we have a powerful human resource in the person of fans.

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

First of all, of course, I wish good health. These people are real heroes, they are doing a huge and truly important job, because it is known that each donor saves about four lives by providing those in need with blood components. May this chain of goodness never end.

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