World Blood Donor Day: Nikos explains why he rolls up his sleeves and donates the gift of life


People who donate blood are superheroes: in under an hour they can save three lives.

Every year, on 14 June, Australia and countries around the world celebrate World Blood Donor Day. The event serves to raise awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products and to thank blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood.

“Every week across Australia, 29,000 donations are needed to support cancer patients, trauma victims, pregnant women and so many others who rely on donated blood and plasma,” an Australian Red Cross Lifeblood spokesperson told The Greek Herald.

Nikos, has been a blood donor for over 20 years and so far, he has made more than one hundred donations in blood and blood products both in Greece and in Australia.

“I made my first donation in 1999. My father used to be a blood donor for as long as he was in good health, so it was natural for me to become one as well,” said Nikos who kept donating during the coronavirus pandemic.

“During crises and disaster situations, the need for blood increases and the number in donations drops.

“If someone is healthy there is no excuse to not donate. By sparing half an hour of your life, three or four times every year you are able to save 12 people’s lives,” Nikos said.

Photo: Supplied by Australian Red Cross Lifeblood

Coronavirus did not prevent Australians from donating blood

Despite the initial fears that blood supply could face critical shortages as more people were staying home to stop the spread of COVID-19, Australian blood and plasma donors responded overwhelmingly to calls for donations since the emergence of the pandemic.

In April, every state across the country had either their largest or second highest plasma collection day on record and appointments continue to be well filled.

“We are extremely grateful to these Australians who have rolled up their sleeves to ensure patients across the country have access to the blood and blood products they require.

“This year we’d also like to make special mention of donors who’ve recovered from COVID-19 and donated plasma. It’s hoped their plasma may boost immunity in patients still battling the disease,” said the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood spokesperson.

Australia currently has around 500,000 blood donors, but millions of others may be eligible to donate.

“Blood donation is very easy, straightforward and rewarding. Especially in Australia, where people can visit a donor centre and a nurse can answer their questions and walk them through the procedure,” Nikos explains, stressing that Greece needs to follow Australia’s example in order to encourage and motivate more people to become blood donors.

Donations in Greece are insufficient

In Greece, at least 600,000 units of blood are required annually, of which only 40 percent are covered by volunteer blood donors, according to the Greek National Center’s for Blood Donation official data.

“The blood donation system in Greece is decentralized and consists of more than 90 hospital blood banks under the supervision of the Ministry of Health. Each bank is an integrated part of a public hospital and has the responsibility for recruiting blood donors, for collecting and testing blood and for processing it into its products to supply the hospital clinics.

“We need a centralized system and people need to be better informed about donating blood,” Nikos suggests.

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