Red cross looking for new blood donors
(CS/DS) A single blood donation can save up to three lives, but Luxembourg's Red Cross is struggling to recruit new donors, also because of very strict criteria.
There are some 13,550 registered blood donors in Luxembourg, While 933 joined the ranks last year, over 1,250 were lost for a variety of reasons, including moving away or old age.
The need for transfusions, however, remains the same, with the list of recipients long, from premature babies and accident victims, to mothers in difficult births, chemotherapy patients, patients undergoing surgery and many more.
Currently, supply can still just about satisfy demand, but new donors are urgently needed, says the Red Cross, especially because criteria are strict.
Temporary bans linked to travel, tattoos
For example, with more and more people travelling further afield, temporary bans can apply. After returning from a tropical country or an area with malaria, donors cannot give blood for six months. A number of other travel-related temporary bans apply. People who get a tattoo or piercing have to stop donating blood for four months.
Therefore, even if a donor was prepared to give blood three to four times a year, the actual number of times they are able to could be considerably lower. Additionally, only around 30 percent of registered donors make a donation when called upon by the Red Cross.
One of the issue is the lack of time. The number of employers granting staff four hours to make the donation has considerably decreased over the past years, the Red Cross says. As a result is has extended opening hours until 7pm on Thursdays.
People with common blood types should not see this as an excuse not to give blood, a spokesperson added. “All are important.”
Homosexuals and UK residents excluded
According to law, newly registered donors need to be aged 18 to 60. People who have regularly donated over a longer period of time can continue to do so until the age of 70, health permitting.
A promiscuous sexual life or the use of drugs will lead to exclusion from the list of donors. Homosexual men are also barred from donating blood, as are people who lived in the UK for a period of more than 12 months between 1980 and 1996, as they may carry the Creutzfeld Jacob “prion”, an infectious protein, which causes the disease.
The prion goes undetected in blood transfusion screenings, and people can be carriers without the illness manifesting itself. The ban is not connected to nationality, but affects all citizens who lived in the UK during this time. Also barred from donating blood are Luxembourg residents who received a blood transfusion or had surgery in the UK between 1980 until today.
At every visit, donors need to submit a health questionnaire. Blood pressure also needs to be right. Every donation is checked and then passed on within 24 hours. In case of an anomaly the donor is informed. Donors can make different types of donations – they can donate blood, plasma or platelets.
For more information on how to donate blood and eligibility criteria visit croix-rouge.lu, with information available in English.