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14/06/2018 | 14.06.18 Diario EL OBSERVADOR

A club committed to blood donation as an attitude towards life

The British Hospital’s Donors Club has been working since 1998 to raise awareness among the population about the importance of donating blood voluntarily and repeatedly.

In the history of medicine there are some discoveries more celebrated and remembered than others such as the creation of the first vaccine or the invention of penicillin. These both were huge steps within the medical field, and to a greater or lesser extent, even the less experienced in this field regard them as milestones for the medical progress. However, some less popular and equally important discoveries went more unnoticed. Among them is the discovery made by Karl Landsteiner in 1909. After several years of investigation, the Austrian scientist found that there were four different blood types among people. What seemed at first to be a small event ended up changing the history of medicine.

From that moment, blood transfusions became much simpler and less dangerous, since the compatibility between the blood and the recipient began to be known in advance. To remember what Landsteiner's discovery achieved, the World Health Organization declared June 14th as the World Blood Donation Day, a date to which, in Uruguay, the British Hospital adheres by promoting an organization which has been working on the subject since 1998: The Blood Donor Club.

Through this partnership, the institution intends to consolidate a community of voluntary and recurrent donors who donate blood to the hospital at least once a year in order to have a blood and blood components stock available to its users. As explained by Dr. Lourdes Viano, head of the Department of Transfusion Medicine, promoting this club is essential for the hospital, but also for raising awareness among the population that voluntary blood donation is essential for the health of the country.

"We look for the voluntary and reiterated donor who takes blood donation as an attitude of life and is informed and educated about the donation and in what implies the responsibility to donate to ensure the wellbeing of others. Having a stable and known number of donors assures us a higher safety index at the moment of transfusing" said Viano.

All blood types are extracted and stored in the department, but also other components that can be found in a person's bloodstream and that may be needed after surgical interventions or other types of treatments, such as globules, plasma or platelets are selected and separated from whole blood.

The donation is divided into two previous parts, which are an interview with the donor and a physical examination. The hospital requires the absolute sincerity of the volunteer to ensure that the extraction won’t cause any harm to his organism and that the health of the weakest part of the process, the receiver, is not put at risk.

"The interview and the physical examination are a complement to the analysis that’s then carried out with the highest technology either to detect blood transmitted diseases or to perform immune haematological analyses. It’s a partnership conformed between the community and us to achieve the benefit of those in need. "

20 years of donation

Members of the hospital who voluntarily come to donate to replenish the hospital’s stock, as well as the hospital’s staff members and their relatives are invited to join the Donor's Club, which celebrates two decades of work this year. From the beginning the amount of members has been growing, which Viano related to the educational work the institution has been carrying on, although it still must be strengthened to overthrow certain fears that haunt the act of blood donation.

Currently, the club has more than 700 donors, including members and hospital’s staff members.

"The donor comes to donate repeatedly to our department, and receives information from the British Hospital about the importance of the act, of volunteering. The goal is to educate the donor so that we can be sure that when they come to donate, they do it willingly and knowing the requirements. From there, a safer donation is procured and the product that we receive is in good conditions".

For being members of the Club and donating repeatedly, in case of needing from the services of the blood bank of the hospital, the users benefit from transfusions that they won’t have to replenish in the act for them and their family, since they would have collaborated with the institution in advance. "They gain that benefit, but the real main benefit is that the British Hospital gets within its structure a group of reiterated solidary donors that helps us to uphold the solidarity of our community."

Viano assured that since the creation of the Club a “thorough job” has been done, and it’s gradually producing results. For this, however, it’s vital that the solidarity of the Uruguayans and the users of the British Hospital should be maintained and extended over time.

"Our community is slowly growing. This isn’t a job only of the Transfusion Medicine Department but of the entire Hospital. We have the demand and the knowledge, but we have to work as a team, and the British Hospital does it so. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but with the team that has been organized in the institution, which has made all its tools available, we will achieve the goals" concluded the specialist.