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Blood donation during coronavirus is a safe and popular process

On November 17, a communication platform “Blood Donation and COVID-19. Donor Movement Support” was opened at the Public Chamber of Russia.

The experts exchanged best practices in organizing blood donation during the COVID-19 pandemic and improving the competencies of the donor movement promoters.

The program of the event included working sessions: "Donation during a pandemic", "Anti-crisis management of the donor movement", a blitz-session of questions and answers. The experts received more than 200 questions from the donor movement participants. Nikolai Daikhes, Chairman of the Coordinating Council for Blood Donation at the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, First Deputy Chairman of the Commission of the Public Chamber of Russia for the Protection of Citizens' Health and Healthcare Development, greeted the participants and noted the great importance of the work of specialists of the donor movement and volunteers.

“The Coordinating Council has held and is carrying out many activities related to the development of donation in Russia, but today is a special meeting, as it is associated with the donor movement in the era of the new coronavirus infection. The specialists working in the blood service system play an important role. Since March, our Scientific and Clinical Center for Otorhinolaryngology of the FMBA of Russia has been adapted to receive patients with COVID-19, our colleagues took the first steps and discovered ways to treat this disease. The Federal Medical-Biological Agency (FMBA of Russia) has conducted many studies of blood plasma to identify ways to fight infection. This is very important work because its results can save hundreds of lives” - Nikolai Daihes.

He expressed gratitude to doctors and donors who donate blood and help patients during the second wave of coronavirus. Deputy Chairperson of the Coordinating Council for Blood Donation at the Public Chamber of Russia, Director of the National Health Development Fund Elena Stefanyuk noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has made changes in all spheres of life. In recent years, the blood service has shown stability, the number of people willing to become donors sometimes exceeded its needs. But the pandemic has made its own adjustments. Today, even though medical organizations are provided with blood components, the need for it is very high.

“Our platform is an opportunity for communication, exchange of practices and proposals between the blood service, volunteers, and blood donor promoters” - Elena Stefanyuk.

The expert also spoke about the sociological research conducted by VCIOM and the National Healthcare Development Fund in 2020, in which more than 6,500 respondents from 85 constituent entities of the Russian Federation took part. Among the problems identified during the survey, Stefanyuk noted the reluctance of 30 percent of respondents to donate blood during self-isolation due to fear of getting sick or infecting recipients. However, more than half of the respondents believe that a pandemic is not a reason to stop donating blood and be a donor. According to the expert, blood donation during the coronavirus is a safe and demanded process.

“Today's work of the blood service is aimed at educating the population that donating blood is as necessary as before. All sanitary and epidemiological measures are observed at the stations. And the actions carried out are not a mass gathering of people: organizing is provided in such a way as to create the safest conditions for donors” - Olga Eikhler, head of the department of medical support for conversion and extreme work and the blood service of the FMBA of Russia.

The expert urged to donate blood and its components, do not be afraid to come to in-patient facilities, assuring everyone that a full range of measures is being taken to prevent the spread of the COVID-19.

“We carry out daily monitoring of the information. In October, 5979 mentions of donation issues were recorded in the media, which is 10 percent higher than in September (5456 publications). 27 percent of the media share are federal media, and 73 percent are regional publications. Publications of a neutral character prevail - 87%. The share of positive ones is 12 percent. All this leads to a decrease in the number of donating blood. Although the reserves of the blood bank are stable, we are always happy and ready to accept new donors of any blood group” - Olga Eichler mentioned, talking about the organized activities of the blood service in 2020.

Answering questions, the expert noted that donated blood is not tested for coronavirus, but today all donors undergo a more thorough physical examination, and blood with antibodies to COVID-19 forms a separate blood bank.

The chief physician of the Moscow Regional Blood Transfusion Station, Maria Appalup, said that the Central Federal District gives about half a million liters of blood annually, and during a pandemic, due to a drop in blood supply, cryobanks began to be used more actively.

Head of the donor movement of the Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University, Tigran Muradyan noted that the leadership of a university is responsible for the health of students, therefore it is easier for many to cancel all actions and events, including donor ones, than to carry them out taking into account the new requirements.

“We, as a medical university, understand the importance of donor actions, so we managed with the administration of the educational institution not to consider such actions to be mass events. We saw a huge potential of donors who were ready to come and donate blood, and we, in turn, observing all security measures, carried out the planned number of events” - Tigran Muradyan.

Pavel Savchuk, member of the Commission on youth, volunteerism and patriotic education of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, Chairman of the All-Russian public movement “Medical Volunteers”, spoke about the experience of volunteers in the framework of the action "We are Together".

“Our volunteers have the opportunity to get online education within the framework of the “School of Responsible Donor” project, they also undergo training at regional blood transfusion stations. Also, we are conducting an all-Russian campaign to popularize the donation of bone marrow and hematopoietic stem cells. We quickly reformatted our educational events, transferring everything to online mode as much as possible, creating new websites, videos and flash mobs in social networks” - Pavel Savchuk. “We have analyzed various studies of specialists from different countries. We believe that the introduction of convalescent plasma at the initial stage of coronavirus disease contributes to an easier course of the disease. We conduct a huge amount of testing and analysis to determine the effect of convalescent plasma on the COVID-19. According to our institute and the Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology, only 50 percent of donors have high antibody titers and are more suitable for the preparation of convalescent plasma. These are donors who have suffered both mild and moderately severe illness, with fever and pneumonia, and have recovered. During this course of the disease, the biggest amount of antibodies is produced” - Alexander Kostin, the head of Clinical and Productive Transfusiology and Gravitational Blood Surgery Department of the Sklifosovsky Research Institute for Emergency Medicine, Candidate of Medical Sciences.

Alexandra Vnuk, head of the donation development department of the Blood Center of the FMBA of Russia, believes that the non-financial support of donors is important - monitoring the health status, the possibility of self-realization, meeting new people, communication. Targeted work with each donor is important, regardless of whether he constantly donates blood or came for the first time.

During the meeting, an award ceremony was held for the participants of the donor Moscow marathon "Knockin 'on Hearts". All participants received special symbols of the donor marathon "For Saved Lives".

Summing up, all the participants noted that mutual understanding and cohesion of efforts of donors and specialists of the blood service, as well as volunteers, who provide invaluable assistance in the development of the donation system in the country, are important for effective work.

In January 2021, the VI Moscow donor marathon “Touch the heart. Donation 2021” started and will last until November 18.
The traditional joint social donor event of the two companies was held in gratitude to Russian scientists, doctors, and blood donors for their care and assistance during the pandemic.
On February 25, a solemn ceremony of awarding the participants of the federal action "Donor is an honor!" was held for the first time in the Khabarovsk Regional Musical Theater.
On February 10, 2021, a communication platform “Blood Donation and COVID-19. Lessons from the pandemic”.
In January 2021, the implementation of the social project by the National Fund for Health Development, dedicated to the development of regular blood donation in the capital, "Donation Out of Season", was launched. The project events will be held with the support of the Committee for Public Relations and Youth Policy of Moscow from January to December 2021.
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