The Red Gold that Gives Life

June 14th was designated by the World Health Organization as the World Blood Donor Day.  It is the day when the Austrian doctor Karl Landsteiner was born, who in 1900 discovered the human blood groups, a discovery for which he was given the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1930.

On this day, the volunteer blood donor is honored for his altruism towards his fellow man, i.e. to offer what is most valuable to his body: the blood.  Blood cannot be produced in a laboratory and no substitutes can be used.

Greece’s blood needs are estimated at 750.000 units per year. To meet these needs, 300.000 – 330.000 regular blood donors are needed to give blood 2 to 3 times per year.  However, our country’s regular blood donors account for only 0,65% of the population and so to meet these needs, we import blood from the Swiss Red Cross.  

The only encouraging feature is that blood donors aged 18-22 years are increasing every year, which means that young people have become aware of the importance of voluntary blood donation.

A few words about the process

The whole procedure lasts 20-30 minutes (questionnaire completion, medical check-up, blood donation).  Blood donation takes about 10 minutes.  Each blood unit can save up to 3 adults or up to 6 children!  The median between two donations should be 3 months, which means that every healthy man or woman aged 18-62 can freely give blood up to 4 times a year.


By being regular blood donors, not only we offer vital help to people in need, but we also benefit ourselves, as:

  • By giving blood we balance the levels of iron in our blood. High levels of iron – especially in men – can cause serious health problems and are also considered a risk factor for acute myocardial infarction.
  • Poor nutrition, smoking, stress, high cholesterol and other factors cause hypercoagulation in our blood, which increases the risk of thrombus or stroke. With regular blood donation, blood flows better, reducing the above risks.
  • We have a good image of our health, as our blood is subject to strict laboratory tests.
  • We set an excellent example of unselfish giving to our children, tomorrow’s blood donors.
  • As regular volunteer blood donors we have a higher priority in receiving blood in case of need.

Additional benefits for all

  • Regular volunteer blood donors are the safest class of blood donors versus “substitution” donors, reducing the chance of disease transmission through blood from 7,5% to 0,001%.
  • When there is a stable and sufficient number of blood donors, the health system can better plan the treatments and operations of the patients, which contributes to the saving of resources, the proper functioning of health structures and, of course, more effective treatment of patients.
  • The state saves money. In 2015, blood importation from Switzerland cost 5 million euros in the Greek state, resources that could be used to improve the health system.

The Greek Blood Donation Center ( ΕΚΕΑ ) provides all the information you need to make a beneficial step towards voluntary blood donation, overcoming the childish fear of …needles 🙂

Give some of your blood  …it’s good for you!

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