Blood donation success stories from countries

World Blood Donor Day - 14 June 2012

Every country needs to have a well-coordinated national blood service to ensure adequate and safe supply of blood for all patients that require transfusion. The best way that countries can assure a reliable, safe blood supply is to obtain 100% of blood donations from voluntary, unpaid donors. In 2008, 62 countries had reached that goal (from 39 countries in 2002) and many more are making rapid progress.

Here are some success stories from countries that have significantly increased volunteer blood donation and improved their systems for screening, processing, storage and distribution of blood.

Cook Islands

Changing the donor profile

A man donates blood sitting under a palm tree.
Rarotonga Hospital Laboratory Blood Bank Service

Like many countries, the Cook Islands has in the past relied heavily on family members of patients to meet the demand for blood donation. According to WHO, family replacement donors have a higher incidence of transmissible infections and family donation also places pressure on families of patients when blood is urgently needed.

In 2004, the Rarotonga Hospital Laboratory Blood Bank Service and Cook Islands Red Cross Society resolved to phase out family donation and to develop a national blood programme based on 100% voluntary unpaid blood donation. A big challenge was to educate the community and health workers on the need for voluntary unpaid blood donors and phase out family donors when this was considered the norm. Blood recruitment drives were held at Saturday morning markets, in high schools, youth education programmes and in many government and community organizations, both on the largest island of Rarotonga and the Outer Islands.

These efforts have resulted in a complete change in the source of blood donations: by 2007, 100% of blood collected was from voluntary unpaid donors, an increase from 30% in 2002. From its population of around 20 000, there are now more than 400 voluntary donors; in 2002 there were only 70. Donations of blood positive for infection markers has reduced from 6% in 2002 to 0.2% since 2007.