June 14, 2022

World Blood Donor Day 2022 – Donate Blood to Save Lives

Did you know that a single bag of whole blood can save multiple lives? Packed red cells are often transfused during childbirth emergencies while plasma is frequently used in traumatic cases to prevent protein loss from the body. Platelet, on the other hand, is a crucial blood component in treating cancer patients with bleeding disorders.

Due to the myriad of diseases that are being treated in today’s health care settings and the growing number of aging population, the demand for blood products has increased exponentially over the years. However, global blood supplies are often inadequate either due to low donation drive or inaccessibility to safe blood (blood that is screened for transmissible diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and syphilis).

The Challenges of Blood Donation in Malaysia

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the donation rate in high-income countries is about 32 per 1,000 people. Back in our own turf, we’re still lagging behind at 23 donations per 1,000 people, and we’ve yet to reach the targeted 5% donor population set by the Ministry of Health. Several factors have been identified by some studies as to why some Malaysians aren’t coming forward as donors and these include:

  • The lower socioeconomic groups are less likely to sign up as donors due to a lack of exposure.
  • Individuals without friends/families who used to be recipients are less motivated to donate blood.
  • People with busier schedules are less likely to participate in blood donation activities.
  • Women, in particular, are less likely to donate blood after pregnancy or breastfeeding due to health concerns. 
  • People who are fearful of blood and needles are more hesitant to donate.  
  • Some individuals may refuse to donate blood altogether due to their religion or ethnic background.
  • Movement restrictions and social distancing due to COVID-19 have dampened donation activities in recent years.   

Raising Awareness about Blood Donation

Now that the number of COVID cases is subsiding, there is no better time than now for Malaysia to ramp up our donation campaigns nationwide, in conjunction with World Blood Donor Day that is held on 14 June every year. The event aims to commemorate all the heroic donors for their selfless contribution, raise awareness of the need for regular, unpaid blood donation and urge government bodies to implement sustainable systems that can collect blood all year round.

How to Become a Blood Donor in Malaysia?

Anyone between the age of 17 to 60 years old who is fit, healthy and weighs at least 45 kg can approach selected government hospitals or collection centres to donate their blood. During the sign-up process, the medical officers will examine, counsel and brief you through the importance of safe blood transfusion.

Once qualified, you’ll be registered into the database and proceed to donate blood which usually takes about 7-15 minutes. Upon completion, you’re required to rest for at least 10 minutes and have some light refreshment before leaving the premises. Other precautionary measures include drinking plenty of water post-donation and avoiding alcohol and strenuous activities for at least a day.

Our National Blood Centre (Pusat Darah Negara) is a good place to start if you’re thinking about donating. It will let you know which blood type is urgently needed, where to find the nearest mobile sites and provides plenty of online resources regarding basic blood transfusion. Remember, blood can save lives and yours could be one of them someday.

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  2. American Red Cross. Types of blood donations. Available at https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/how-to-donate/types-of-blood-donations.html. Accessed on 30 May 2022.
  3. Greinacher A, Fendrich K, Hoffmann W. Demographic changes: the impact for safe blood supply. Transfus Med Hemother. 2010;37(3):141-148.
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  8. Noh SM, Karim FA, Kambali MM, et al. Knowledge and attitude towards blood donation among non-blood donor residents of Kuala Terengganu at Hospital Sultanah Nur Zahirah, Kuala Terengganu. Malaysian Journal of Medicine and Health Sciences. 2019;15(1):53-62.
  9. Noordin SS, Yusoff NM, Karim FA, Chong SE. Blood transfusion services amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. J Glob Health. 2021;11:03053.
  10. World Health Organization. World blood donor day 2022: donating blood is an act of solidarity. Join the effort and save lives. Available at https://www.who.int/news-room/events/detail/2022/06/14/default-calendar/world-blood-donor-day-2022#: Accessed on 30 May 2022.
  11. National Blood Centre of Malaysia. Available at https://pdn.gov.my/. Accessed on 30 May 2022.