On World Blood Donor day, under this year's motto of "Every blood donor is a hero", the European Commission stresses the importance of safe blood supplies and encourages all European citizens to join the ranks of responsible voluntary donors. Today more than 500 million EU citizens depend on blood donated by less than 15 million donors. This is not enough to meet the needs of all the Europeans who depend on blood to survive from an emergency or to live with a chronic diseases that requires regular transfusions.
"Blood is life. Each and every one of us may need blood to recover from a major surgery or a severe accident. For many Europeans, with chronic disease such as haemophilia or thalassaemia, blood is a constant necessity. Blood makes a difference. This is why today, I wish to pay tribute to all donors and to invite Europeans to show solidarity with those in need and donate blood. Become a donor, become a hero."
When it comes to blood, national health-care authorities continuously face two compelling challenges: blood expiry date and blood supply shortages. Blood cannot be stored forever, which requires a regular replenishing of supplies. In addition, as the population grows older, demand for blood increases. This is closely related to a higher prevalence of age-related diseases, such as cancers or hip fractures, whose treatments often lead to surgical interventions, and hence the growing need for blood supplies.
EU legislation helps to ensure safety and quality of blood donations, both for donors and for recipients. It sets eligibility criteria and helps donors make responsible decisions on what is the right moment to give blood. It also requires all donated blood in the EU to be tested and imposes quality requirements as to how professionals must handle collected or donated blood.