World Blood Donor Day: The Essential Steps Of Saving Lives Through Blood Donation


World Blood Donor Day was established by the WHO in 2004 to honor the birthday of Karl Landsteiner, an Austrian-American immunologist, pathologist, and Nobel Prize laureate, in 1930. Every year on 14th June, World Blood Donor Day is commemorated to raise awareness about safe blood donation and its vital role in transfusion.

Blood, a vital component of our bodies, is a precious gift that saves countless lives. Blood donation plays a noble role in saving lives during surgeries, emergencies, or medical treatments. A widely performed clinical procedure, blood transfusion, has witnessed significant advancements in safety measures globally.

With an intent to provide universal access to safe blood and blood products, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been pioneering efforts to enhance blood safety and availability[1]. Ensuring the safety of patients receiving blood transfusions involves a comprehensive FDA blood-safety system incorporating multiple layers of protection[2]. This system encompasses the following steps:

1. Donor Screening: Stringent donor screening procedures, guided by FDA regulations, are carried out to identify potential risks and ensure that donors are free from diseases transmissible through blood transfusion. While evaluating potential blood donors’ medical history is assessed, and physical examinations are conducted to determine their eligibility. Individuals engaged in risky activities, such as a history of intravenous drug abuse, are temporarily excluded from donating blood.

2. Blood Testing: The FDA rigorously reviews and approves test kits for detecting infectious diseases in donated blood. All blood donations undergo mandatory screenings for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and syphilis to ensure their safety before utilization[1]. Additionally, the FDA recommends testing for West Nile Virus and Trypanosoma cruzi (Chagas disease). Blood grouping and compatibility testing are carried out, and blood is processed into appropriate blood products, such as blood components and plasma-derived medicinal products, based on healthcare requirements. These measures are implemented to meet healthcare needs while maintaining the highest safety standards.

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3. Donor Deferral Lists: A blood donor deferral period is when an individual is temporarily ineligible to donate blood. This deferral period ensures the donor and blood recipient’s well-being and safety. The most common reasons for deferring a potential blood donor include medications, a travel history to a country where a transfusion-transmissible infection is endemic, a tattoo piercing, a history of cancer, bleeding conditions, intravenous drug use, and people who have been treated for syphilis or gonorrhea. Blood establishments maintain up-to-date lists of deferred donors to ensure that blood collection does not occur from ineligible individuals.

4. Blood Quarantine Protocols: Donated blood is quarantined until it undergoes testing and is confirmed free from infectious agents. A robust quarantine system is to be followed to ensure the safety of donated blood. It involves physically segregating unscreened donations and their components until infection marker screening is completed. All reactive or positive donations and their derived components are labeled “Not for transfusion”. They are stored separately from screened units and segregated for appropriate disposal or non-clinical use. This meticulous process prevents the accidental use of unscreened units, safeguarding the well-being of patients and upholding the highest standards of blood safety.

5. Effective Quality Management: Promoting responsible blood usage and minimizing transfusion risks through patient blood management and safe transfusion practices is imperative. Quality systems with standards, training, and assessment are implemented to ensure effective and safe practices in healthcare settings. Blood centers must investigate manufacturing issues, address deficiencies, and promptly report product deviations to the FDA.

Avoiding unnecessary transfusions and ensuring safe practices can help safeguard patients from adverse reactions and transfusion-related infections. Moreover, reducing unnecessary transfusions ensures sufficient blood product availability for those in critical need, enhancing patient care and optimizing resource utilization through well-managed blood donation.

(The article is written by Dr.Subita Alagh, Senior Executive, and reviewed by Monalisa Deka, Senior Health Content Editor)

1. WHO: Blood safety and availability. Available online:
2. FDA: Keeping Blood Transfusions Safe: FDA’s Multi-layered Protections for Donated Blood. Available online:

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