Background information on blood donation: Save lives, donate blood!

A post by:     Thomas Sampers
Executive Board Member
Last updated: 2024-06-14

Every one of us may need a blood transfusion at some point. Whether in the event of an accident, a serious illness or an operation - blood reserves can make the difference between life and death. Yet far too few people still donate blood. On 14 June, it is once again World Blood Donor Day. I would like to take this as an opportunity to encourage you to donate blood!

Suddenly you need it - a blood donation

There are days you never forget. We were on holiday, the phone rings. It's my mum on the line. She calmly reports her doctor's diagnosis. A malignant bone marrow disease. A world collapses. My mum has bone marrow cancer - incurable. Weeks of chemotherapy, weakness, despair and fear followed, interrupted only by the days when things got better. With a blood transfusion. But where did the blood come from that helped my mum so much? From blood donations! What I always knew professionally, I experienced privately. Blood donations save lives.

The importance of blood donation

Blood donation is one of the most important medical practices, saving the lives of thousands of people every day. It is essential for the treatment of cancer patients, accident victims, the chronically ill and for complex surgical procedures. Despite its importance, awareness of the need for blood donations is often low and blood banks around the world regularly face the problem of finding enough donors. 
Every healthy adult can save three lives with a single blood donation, because the donated blood can be separated into its components - red blood cells, plasma and platelets - and used for various medical purposes.
This is why it is so important that more people decide to donate blood regularly. I would like to help raise awareness of this.

The beginnings of blood donation

The idea of transferring blood from one person to another is an old one. The first documented blood transfusion was carried out in the 17th century, but it was only with the discovery of blood groups at the beginning of the 20th century that safe transfusions became possible. Since then, millions of lives have been saved with blood transfusions. In the beginning, the donated blood was still stored in extremely fragile glass bottles, which were not only fragile but also very unhygienic and difficult to transport. 

The revolution in blood donation bags

Fortunately, things are different today, thanks to durable plastic bags. RENOLIT plays a decisive role in the background. We are the leading manufacturer of high-performance films used in the production of blood bags. I always think it's impressive what our highly developed polymer materials and advanced production techniques make possible here. They create blood bags that are not only robust and flexible, but also make blood last longer. 

How safe are blood donations and blood transfusions?

Today's medical standards have made both blood donation and blood transfusion incredibly safe. After initial problems and scandals in the 20th century, extensive safety precautions were taken and implemented.
Blood donation services, such as that of the German "Deutsches Rotes Kreuz", apply strict standards to protect the health of those willing to donate. If these criteria are adhered to, there are practically no health risks for donors.
Receiving a blood donation is also safe today. Strict controls ensure the highest quality and safety standards. The DRK Blood Donor Service West puts the statistical residual risk of HIV infection at 1:16 million. DRK quote: "The possibility of contracting viruses or infections through a blood transfusion is therefore negligible.
You can find out more about the safety of blood donations on this page of the DRK: 

How donating blood works

Today, donating blood involves little effort for the donor - and it doesn't hurt. I have rarely needed more than an hour to donate blood. You can donate in many places, for example at mobile blood donation centres. These are announced on site and can also be enquired online at the DRK.
After a preliminary examination, the actual blood donation takes place, during which 500 millilitres of blood are taken. This takes less than 10 minutes. Afterwards, you will be given a small snack and can rest for a while. You should drink plenty of fluids to compensate for the loss of liquids. That's it. You can then continue your day as usual.
You can check if you are authorised to donate blood here: 

Donating blood requires trust and reliability

It is clear that donating blood is not easy, neither for the donor nor for the recipient. It requires a high degree of trust and reliability from everyone involved. That is why we at RENOLIT, for example, are constantly working on further developing our technologies and ensuring the quality of the films for blood bags. Quality and safety measures are also constantly being improved in the blood donation services and in medicine.
I am infinitely grateful that people donated the blood that helped my mum so much. This is another reason why I donate blood with a safe feeling - and would also want to receive blood with a safe feeling in an emergency.

We need more blood donations!

In Germany alone, more than 15,000 blood donations are needed every day to care for sick and injured people. Donating blood is an act of solidarity and humanity - and is completely safe for the donors. A small effort with a big impact. Every donation makes a difference. This thought also makes me forget the small prick at the beginning and go home with a good feeling. My plea is therefore: Donate blood and save lives!