World Blood Donor Day: Give the gift of life in 2013

On the 10th anniversary of World Blood Donor Day, we’d like to offer a salute to the lifesavers who make over 100 million blood donations each year. These small actions – it doesn’t feel small the first time you do it – provide a resource that is vital in the treatment of everything from burns and car accidents to cancer and blood disorders.

For many national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, blood is a core part of their mission. Use the link on the right to find out if your society is planning anything special for World Blood Donor Day, or simply to find out how you can get involved as a donor.

Three things to do with donated blood

The complete ‘product’ of blood donation is whole blood. This is not used often in treatment – except to treat catastrophic blood loss – but is instead separated into different products. (Source: British Red Cross)

Red blood cells

These are used in the treatment of all kinds of anaemia which can't be medically corrected, such as when rheumatoid arthritis or cancer is involved, when red cells break down in the newborn and for sickle cell disease.

They're also essential to replace lost red cells due to blood loss in accidents, surgery and after childbirth.


Platelets can be used in bone marrow failure, post transplant and chemotherapy treatments, and leukaemia. Platelets can be of huge benefit to the recipient.


Fresh frozen plasma is used after obstetric loss of blood (which is usually childbirth), during cardiac surgery, and to reverse any anti-coagulant treatment.

It's also used to replace clotting factors after massive transfusions or when they are not being sufficiently produced, such as liver disease.

And then there's processed plasma, which has several important uses.

For instance, it is used in the treatment of haemophilia and for treating sufferers of Christmas disease, a life-threatening form of haemophilia.

Processed plasma is also used to help produce stronger antibodies against diseases like tetanus, hepatitis, chickenpox and rabies.

It also helps generate anti-D, which is used for RhD negative pregnant women carrying RhD positive babies.

Additionally there is a protein called albumin contained in plasma, which is extremely beneficial for burn victims.

About World Blood Donor Day

World Blood Donor Day (WBDD) is held annually on 14 June. It aims to help build a worldwide culture of voluntary blood donation. Since its inception, this event has celebrated blood donors and highlighted the unique life-saving role they play in the health of their community.

It is also used to create wider awareness about the need for blood and how many more people throughout the world need to become regular voluntary blood donors.

WBDD is sponsored by four core agencies that work together to promote voluntary blood donation:

These organizations represent 193 WHO member states, 186 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, over 60 national blood donor organizations and more than 3,000 blood transfusion specialists.

At the World Health Assembly in 2005, the ministers of health of all WHO member states unanimously adopted a resolution that recognized voluntary non-remunerated blood donors as the cornerstone of a safe, adequate and sustainable blood supply. They endorsed World Blood Donor Day as an annual event and recommended that it should become an integral part of national blood donor programmes.

National campaigns and activities are supported by an international media campaign. A country that has demonstrated major achievements in working towards, or maintaining, 100 per cent voluntary blood donation hosts a global WBDD event.

WBDD is not intended to replace national blood donor days or weeks, but to provide an opportunity for the world to unite in a global celebration of humanitarianism, volunteerism and solidarity.

WBDD aims to:

  • create awareness of the role that individuals can play in saving and improving human lives

  • encourage people to enroll as voluntary blood donors

  • provide a springboard for longer-term donor education programmes and campaigns to strengthen blood transfusion services

Information and ideas for activities and resources to support national campaigns can be found on the WBDD website at

The IFRC and Blood, infographic
World Blood Donor Day banner