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Interview with Natalia Popkova

The video clip with the hymn of the Sverdlovsk donors «We are with you of the same blood» and the «Team game» project with the football players of the Ural club became winners of the All-Russian Competition of Professional Skills by the Blood Service. Natalya Popkova, Deputy Chief Physician for Organizational and Methodological Work of the Blood Transfusion Station of the Sverdlovsk Region, Chief Freelance Transfusiologist of the Ministry of Health of the Sverdlovsk Region and the Urals Federal District, told about the work on projects, which unites sports, art and blood donation.

Tell us about the project "You and I are of the same blood." What goals did you set implementing this project?

As pompous as it sounds, the idea of creating a hymn has long been on the table. We wanted the Blood Service of the Sverdlovsk Region to have a song praising and glorifying blood donors and all volunteers participating in the donor movement in the region. I wanted to say “thank you” to all caring and sympathetic people who are ready to help at our first call, to attract the attention of new people who are not alien to the ideas of kindness, mercy, philanthropy, mutual assistance and responsibility, to form a team spirit of donors.

Tell us about the creators of the anthem of donors - the composer, the author of the words.

Despite the large number of songwriters living in the region, we wanted the author to be related to donation, to be a person who feels this topic. It took us a long time to find such people. Everything happened at the right time. We were preparing for the upcoming anniversary of the Blood Service. During this period, our donor Vladimir offered us to create the anthem of the donors of the Sverdlovsk region. He knows the meaning of donation firsthand, he regularly donates blood and platelets. Vladimir Kozyrchikov noted that there was no specific goal, rather it was a rush of the soul. He says about the creation of the anthem: Blood donation is a very noble cause that you just want to sing about. I set myself the only task, so that the song turned out to be beautiful and melodic, which would be easy to remember and sing of all the nobility of the movement. A song that will be able to attract the attention of people who did not know about donation before. The most difficult thing was to come up with a chorus, what would be the words?! In a sleepless night was born: " We are with you of the same blood."

How was the creative process organized?

Professionals participated in the process of creating the anthem. A recording studio was rented. Everything else was done for free! An amazing team has been put together. Both the sound engineer who recorded the song and the performers all participated in the creation of the anthem of their own free will. Olga Lunina, Artem Necheukhin and Vladimir Kozyrchikov himself presented their voices to us. These people put a part of themselves into the song.

The anthem of the Blood Service of the Sverdlovsk Region is rhythmic and melodic. It combines styles of popular music and rap. The presentation of the song “We are with you of the same blood” took place in March 2020 at the TASS-URAL press center, and was gladly received by the participants in the donor movement. There was a request to shoot also a video clip for the song.

The choice of performers and participants in the video is a very important process. How did it happen, why were these performers and participants chosen?

The video was filmed six months after the release of the song. The filming process took a month, the work went on at several sites. The main characters of the video are a man in trouble and a donor woman. Strangers become one, sing in one voice “we are with you of the same blood”, knowing nothing about each other. It is noteworthy that vocalist Olga Lunina became a donor during the filming. In the video, a real donation process was filmed, the girl was out of breath and tears were flowing. The video turned out to be very insightful. Olga has become a regular donor and now donates blood regularly.

To promote the video, influencers were involved - opinion leaders in the region - each of which has its audience. Famous people of Yekaterinburg and the Sverdlovsk region took part in the filming. The characters of the clip were the host of Pilot FM radio Alexander Morozov, musical comedy theater actor Alexander Kopylov, defender of the Avtomobilist hockey club Nikita Tryamkin, leader of the Motodonor-Yekaterinburg movement Oleg Lebedev, Thai boxing coach, rap musician Maxim Vyguzov.

The blood transfusion station received the anthem of donors on its 90th anniversary. What does this anniversary mean to you?

In September 2020, the Sverdlovsk Regional Blood Transfusion Station turned 90 years old. A serious figure, followed by many years of experience, bright personalities, success in scientific and practical work. The station was organized in 1930 as a branch of the Central Institute of Blood Transfusion. At that time, it was a small point with a plan for harvesting 100 liters per year. Today it is one of the largest institutions in Russia, which provides components and blood products to a territory with a population of over 4.5 million people. The appearance of the video was symbolic for us.

Tell us about the results of the project "We are with you of the same blood." Where was the donors' anthem broadcast, what was the response?

The goal of the project is to support and develop free voluntary donation in the Sverdlovsk region. A lot of effort has gone into this and we are pleased with the result. Only on the YouTube channel "Blood Service of the Sverdlovsk Region" the video gained almost one and a half thousand views. And that's not counting how many people saw the clip on social media and television. The clip was broadcast on Channel Four and the OTV channel.

Your Team Game project has become one of the best youth projects aimed at promoting and developing voluntary donation of blood and its components. Tell us about the project and cooperation with the Ural football club.

A long-term friendship connects us with the Ural football club. The project is long-term, started in November 2019. Football club "Ural" took patronage of gratuitous platelet donors and began to encourage them. The club supported us in the following tasks: promotion of gratuitous platelet donation, broadcasting the image of a hero and savior, forming a favorable image of a platelet donor in society.

Only those volunteers who undergo plateletpheresis at the Sverdlovsk Regional Blood Transfusion Station free of charge can use the club's special privileges. The result of such cooperation was the appearance of a donor tribune at the Yekaterinburg-Arena stadium, the presence of platelet donors at the closed training sessions of FC Ural before matches in the Premier League, the presence of football players at events and the encouragement of platelet donors (souvenirs, photographs, autographs).

How did the idea for the project come about? How did you combine two such powerful semantic ideas - sports and blood donation?

Sports and blood donation are all about a healthy lifestyle. Many athletes are blood donors and demonstrate by personal example that donation is safe and humane. In modern sports, the donation can be used as a method of correcting severe oxygen debt, which inevitably occurs during heavy physical exertion. The achievements of big-time sports have now reached the point where all possibilities are used to the maximum. And if there is also a chance to help a patient in need of a transfusion, that’s a medical advance. Sports activities, both professional and amateur, are not among the restrictions on donors.

Football is a popular sport, including in the Sverdlovsk region. Ural "bumblebees" regularly participate in charity events. We did not have to persuade these guys, we immediately found a response to the proposal to support gratuitous platelet donation. In support of the donation of this blood component, the Ural football players starred in social videos. Footballers became blood donors. The videos are broadcast on screens at the blood transfusion station and on social networks.

In less than a year, the number of donations of platelets by the regional blood transfusion station has doubled!

Fans of FC Ural joined the ranks of donors. Thanks to the popularity of football in the Sverdlovsk region, youth (volunteer organizations) joined the promotion of free platelet donation in the region: members of the football fan club, members of the Molodezhka ONF team in the Sverdlovsk region, medical volunteers of the Sverdlovsk Regional Medical College and activists of the regional branch of the All-Russian Student Corps rescuers.

Why is platelet donation so important? Platelet donor - what are its distinctive qualities?

The peculiarity of the component is that it is stored for only 5-7 days, therefore it is prepared exclusively by the request of medical organizations. Platelet donors of the Sverdlovsk region come to the rescue at the first call of transfusiologists. These are not indifferent people, they understand: if our doctors called them, it means that someone needs help now. This component is necessary for cancer patients, children with hematological diseases, with severe bleeding. Platelet transfusions are in dire need of patients undergoing chemotherapy. Without this, bone marrow transplantation would have been impossible for them. More than 20,000 doses of platelets are transfused annually in the Sverdlovsk Region.

The regional blood transfusion station promotes the free donation of platelets. This is a worldwide trend. We strive for people to come to us consciously, and not to solve their financial problems. A gratuitous donor is a reliable donor. He will adhere to our recommendations and will not hide his illnesses.

And our traditional question: what would you wish donors and those who are just about to join the donor program?

Blood donors are special people, they perform a “quiet feat” in the name of the life and health of other people! I think that such people form our civil society. To all those who donate blood and those who wish to join the donor movement, I wish you good health.

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