World Blood Donor Day Recognizes Donors’ Lifesaving Gift

For three years, Krystal Sanchez coordinated South Texas Blood & Tissue Center (STBTC) drives for her San Antonio employer, donating and encouraging colleagues to join her.

“I never thought I would become a patient who would need a blood transfusion,” she said.

But that changed earlier this year when Sanchez underwent an emergency cesarean section. Afterward, she felt so weak she could not hold her baby.

Because she had lost so much blood during her procedure, doctors ordered a transfusion. After receiving two units, she was able to cradle her newborn daughter in her arms for the first time.

“It was a blessing, since I got to see first-hand how important it is to donate,” said Sanchez, who received one of the 21 million transfusions performed every year in the United States, according to the American Association of Blood Banks.

On June 14, Sanchez and millions like her will mark World Blood Donor Day. The annual event, sponsored by the World Health Organization, thanks donors for an estimated 108 million gifts of life a year.

The theme of World Blood Donor Day 2015 is “Thank you for saving my life,” and it will be celebrated with events, promotions and seminars on every continent.

“The event serves to thank voluntary unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood and to raise awareness of the need for regular blood donations to ensure quality, safety and availability of blood and blood products for patients in need,” according to the WHO website.

The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center has joined a partnership with Nexcare Bandages to promote World Blood Donor Day. From June 14-20, STBTC donor centers and mobile blood drives will distribute a series of eight free, limited-edition “give” bandages.

World Blood Donor Day occurs at a time when collections at the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center naturally decline because of the summer break at schools. One-third of all STBTC collections come from drives at educational institutions, with 26 percent coming from high schools alone.

It also arrives in the wake of natural disasters that have stretched blood supplies thin across Texas.

In South Texas, donors of all blood types always are needed. The most critical needs are for donors with O positive and O negative blood, since O positive makes up the highest percentage of the population and O negative can be given to virtually any patient.

“Every donation can save up to three lives,” said Elizabeth Waltman, chief operating officer of the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center. “It’s important that people know the value of making regular donations, and spreading the word, too.”

Sanchez agreed.

“I encourage everyone I know to donate when they can,” she said. “You never know when you or someone you know will need blood.”