Fact 1 : Blood transfusion saves lives and improves health, but millions of patients requiring transfusion do not have timely access to safe blood. Every country needs to ensure that blood supplies are sufficient and free from HIV, hepatitis viruses and other life-threatening infections that can be transmitted through unsafe transfusion.
Fact 2 : In developed countries, transfusion is most commonly used to support medical and surgical procedures and treatment of conditions such as leukaemia, aplastic anaemia, thalassaemia, sickle cell disease and haemophilia. While the demand for blood is increasing, blood shortages are common. More blood donors are needed to replace those that are lost every year due to ill health, retirement and relocation.
Fact 3 : In developing and transitional countries, many people die because safe blood is not available, even in some urban healthcare facilities. In the southern African region, up to 20% of maternal deaths and 15% of child deaths are attributable to severe anaemia due to malaria. The management of these cases often requires safe and timely blood transfusion.
Fact 4 :More than 529 000 women die each year during pregnancy or childbirth, 99% of them in developing countries. Haemorrhage is the leading cause of maternal deaths worldwide, accounting for up to 44% of maternal deaths in some areas of sub-Saharan Africa.
Fact 5 : More than 100 million people sustain injuries each year and more than five million die from violence and injury. Road traffic crashes are the second leading cause of death and a leading cause of serious injury for people aged 5 to 29 years. Safe blood transfusion is an essential component of emergency trauma care systems to minimize death and disability of injured patients.
Fact 6 :Blood for transfusion should always be screened for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and syphilis, but in more than 40 countries not all donated blood is tested for these infections. Testing is not reliable in many countries because of staff shortages, poor quality test kits, irregular supplies, or lack of basic laboratory quality. It is also not affordable or cost-effective in most developing and transitional countries.
Fact 7 : More than 81 million units of blood are collected globally every year. Only 45% of these are donated in developing and transitional countries where more than 80% of the world’s population lives. The average blood donation rate is three times higher in transitional countries and 11 times higher in developed countries than in developing countries.Fact 8 : Adequate stocks of safe blood can only be assured by regular donation by voluntary unpaid blood donors, because the prevalence of bloodborne infections is lowest among these donors. It is higher among donors who give blood only when it is required for a family or community member, and highest among those who give blood for money or other form of payment.
Fact 9 : The number of blood units donated in transitional countries increased from 29 million in 2002 to 36 million in 2004. Fifty countries achieved 100% voluntary unpaid blood donation in 2004 compared with 39 in 2002. But family/replacement donors and paid donors still remain a significant source of blood for transfusion in many developing and transitional countries.