New blood donors are needed to secure the blood supply
Around 29,000 people donated blood in Finland between June and July, while the target was 2,000 more. Patients have received the blood products required, but there is a desperate need for new donors.
Heatwaves significantly reduced the number of blood donors during some weeks in the summer. Warm weather is expected in the next few days as well, which is believed to affect how actively people donate. However, patients need blood regardless of the weather. Donating blood is safe even in the heat, as long as you remember to drink enough water.
“Looking at the longer term, it is clear that more new blood donors are needed”, says Satu Pastila, Director of Blood Donation at the Blood Service.
Approximately 3.5% of Finns eligible to donate blood (i.e. aged 18–70) currently do so. New blood donors are constantly needed, as there are too few donors overall at present. In order to ensure security of supply in all circumstances and changing situations, a larger group of blood donors is needed. Every day, some of those who have previously donated blood have to stop their donations due to illness or aging, for example.
“At the moment, some blood donors receive invitations from us quite frequently. We also actively communicate about the need for donors, for example, on social media. People consider their first donation for up to a year on average, so those who have already previously donated blood play a key role in ensuring that we are able to collect blood daily as needed by hospitals”, Pastila says.
Aiming for 20,000 new donors per year
There have been just over 10,000 new blood donors this year. The Blood Service is aiming for 20,000 new donors per year, and we are currently falling slightly short of this target.
“Donating blood is an easy and concrete way to help others. Every contribution is needed”, Pastila says.
The Blood Service collects donated blood only in the amount that meets the needs of Finnish hospitals. About 40,000 different patients received donated blood last year.
How do you know if you are eligible to become a blood donor?
The majority of Finns aged 18 to 59 could try donating blood.
“You can easily check your eligibility to donate blood with Can I donate -online test”, Pastila encourages.
For example, you do not need to know your own blood group or haemoglobin level when coming to donate blood, but you will find those things out while donating.
At the moment, the Blood Service is running a campaign specifically to increase the share of men donating blood. The blood of all blood donors is equally valuable. However, men have some advantages as blood donors: they have better iron stores on average and, for example, pregnancies and childbirth do not affect the donation eligibility. Men accounted for approximately 45% of donors in the first half of the year.
Blood can be donated across Finland at any of the Blood Service’s ten permanent centres or at blood donation events held in different parts of Finland every weekday. For all blood donation opportunities, please refer to the calendar on the Blood Service website.