A region-wide donor session is due to take place on January 19 and organisers are aiming for a new high of 8,000 participants on the day, each of whom typically give 660ml, or a pint.
Barcelona’s mayoress Ada Colau reveals that a thousand donations a day are needed just to treat the usual numbers of patients in Catalunya’s hospitals, meaning even if the 8,000 is reached, stocks will only last for just over a week.
At certain times of the year, supplies reduce more drastically than others – summer, with the tourist influx, and other holiday seasons including Christmas and Easter, especially at peak traffic times when accident rates are higher.
This festive season has seen blood stocks fall by 25%.
And even though it is stored in optimum conditions, donated blood does not last long – and at the moment, donations are lower than ever, since the annual influenza epidemic and other seasonal health problems, such as the common cold, mean those affected cannot give blood.
Also, stocks were depleted in August in Catalunya following the near-simultaneous terrorist attacks on Las Ramblas in Barcelona and in Cambrils (Tarragona province), as they were needed to treat the swathes of injured tourists and residents.
Manel Peiró of the Blood and Tissue Bank says the idea of sending a text message to donors when their contribution is ‘summoned’ to a hospital for use was devised in Sweden and has proven extremely successful, since people are more likely to make the effort if they have a sense that it is helping a specific person or being used for a particular purpose – in the same way as householders are more likely to recycle their waste if they can see the results of what it is used for.
And blood transfusions are needed for a huge range of medical emergencies and less-urgent but equally-vital uses, many of which are not apparently obvious.
Kidney failure, severe anaemia, cancer – especially leukaemia – HIV and AIDS, road accidents and other major injuries, childbirth, heart patients and numerous other conditions require ‘blood bags’.
Sadly for British nationals living in Spain, current rules do not allow them to donate blood outside of the UK if they have been in their native country – even visiting – prior to the year 1996, due to the Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease (CJD) outbreak, but they can do so on a visit ‘home’, and other nationalities in Spain are urged to do so.
Donors must be aged at least 18, in good physical health with no chronic conditions or acute medical problems, generally not on any medication, and weigh at least 50 kilos (7st 12lb) irrespective of their height.
Some centres provide drinks and snacks for donors after they have finished giving blood, but those who wish to participate are advised to bring their own just in case, since the process sometimes leaves a person feeling light-headed.
Otherwise, it is relatively painless with very little discomfort.