14 June is celebrated as World Blood Donor Day. This year, the message is to ‘Be there for someone else. Give blood. Share life.’
In 2013, 68% of reporting countries, or 122 out of 179, had a national blood policy. Overall, 58% of reporting countries, or 105 out of 181, have specific legislation covering the safety and quality of blood transfusion, including:
- 79% of high-income countries
- 64% of middle-income countries
- 41 % of low-income countries.
There are 3 types of blood donors:
- voluntary unpaid
Blood collected in an anticoagulant can be stored and transfused to a patient in an unmodified state. This is known as ‘whole blood’ transfusion. However, blood can be used more effectively if it is processed into components, such as
- red cell concentrates,
- platelet concentrates,
- plasma and
In this way, it can meet the needs of more than one patient.
It is the responsibility of individual governments to ensure sufficient and equitable supply of plasma-derived medicinal products (PDMP), namely immunoglobulins and coagulation factors, which are needed to prevent and treat a variety of serious conditions that occur worldwide.
Of the 112.5 million blood donations collected globally, approximately half of these are collected in high-income countries, home to 19% of the world’s population.
There is a marked difference in the level of access to blood between low- and high-income countries. The whole blood donation rate is an indicator for the general availability of blood in a country. The median blood donation rate is as follows:
- high-income countries: 32.1 donations per 1000 people
- upper-middle-income countries: 14.9 donations per 1000 people,
- lower-middle-income countries: 7.8 donations per 1000 people,
- low-income countries: 4.6 donations per 1000 people
In low-income countries, up to 65% of blood transfusions are given to children under 5 years of age; whereas in high-income countries, up to 76% of all transfusions are given to those over 65 years of age.
In high-income countries, transfusion is most commonly used for supportive care in
- cardiovascular surgery,
- transplant surgery,
- massive trauma, and
- therapy for solid and haematological malignancies.
In low- and middle-income countries it is used more often to manage
- pregnancy-related complications and
- severe childhood anaemia.
Globally 30% of blood donations are given by women, although this ranges widely. In 18 of the 118 reporting countries, less than 10% of donations are given by female donors.
The age profile of blood donors shows that, proportionally, more young people donate blood in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries.
Although 74 countries collect over 90% of their blood supply from voluntary unpaid blood donors; 71 countries collect more than 50% of their blood supply from family/replacement or paid donors.
WHO recommends that all blood donations should be screened for infections prior to use. Screening for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and syphilis should be mandatory.
The capacity to provide patients with the different blood components varies considerably. Of all the blood collected, the proportion that is separated into components is:
- 50% in low-income countries
- 59% in lower-middle-income countries,
- 92% in upper-middle-income countries, and
- 97% in high-income countries.
Only 51 of 180 reporting countries produce plasma-derived medicinal products (PDMP) through the fractionation of plasma collected in the reporting country.
Link to World Blood Donor Day 2018 website:
Link to 10 facts on blood transfusion:
Link to WHO factsheet on blood safety and availability (updated June 2017):
Link to WHO Question & Answer ‘Why should I donate blood?’:
Link to campaign video: