Life-Saving Good Deeds

Donate Blood

Every single one of us has the ability to save a life. Today. There is something we all can do to help those in desperate need which costs us nothing in return; the very definition of what More Good Deeds is all about. And yet, only 33 out of 1000 people do this particular thing in high-income countries, with the stats dropping to 11.7 and 4.6 per 1000 for middle- and low-income countries respectively. What I am talking about? Donating blood, of course.

According to the World Health Organisation, 112.5 million blood donations are collected every year around the world. More than half of this amount comes from high-income countries, where just 19% of the global population resides. Blood is rarely transported across boarders and even high-income countries can experience a shortage of blood, meaning access in low- and middle-income countries is often limited. And as we all know, blood saves lives. One donor can, in fact, save three lives. That’s three good deeds.

It’s incredible to learn how much blood is actually needed for some medical treatments. One victim of a car crash, for example may need up to 100 pints of blood. Children born with sickle cell disease (between 90,000 to 100,000 babies in the US every year) will require regular blood transfusions for their entire lives. Blood is needed for chemotherapy treatments. And of course many surgeries require blood transfusions as well.

Not all blood for transfusions is donated. Although most high-income countries are able to rely on kind-hearted people doing a good deed and donating blood, other countries have systems for paying donors or depend on family members to donate. Here in Cambodia 66 percent of blood transfusions come from family members. This system may work in the sense that you’re more likely to be a compatible match, but unless you have advanced knowledge of when the blood is needed and the transfusion isn’t an emergency, the system is flawed. Four out of every 1000 Cambodians donate blood voluntarily and yet I’ve seen more fatal car accidents in this country than I’ve witnessed in the rest of my life in the UK. Many of these people could have been saved had they received timely blood transfusions (and had the traffic actually parted to allow the ambulance through – but that’s a story for another day).

Mothers continue to die in childbirth in Cambodia because there is not enough blood available if something goes wrong during the delivery, especially in the provinces. 65% of blood transfusions which occur in low-income countries such as Cambodia are given to children under 5. Many of these children are suffering from malaria in the rural areas of the country. In high-income countries, 76% of blood transfusions are given to people over 65. While high-income countries still have a shortage of blood, the call for more donors in countries like Cambodia is getting more desperate. Cambodians are reluctant to donate because they believe, incorrectly, that the short procedure will make the donor themselves sick. More education is needed to spread the message that not only does the procedure do no damage to the donor at all but it is quick, painless and could save the lives of three children.

June 14th is World Blood Donor Day. To be honest, I’d rather you didn’t wait before popping down to your local Blood Bank and donating. Most countries allow people between the age of 16 and 70 to donate blood and the Red Cross is one of the best known organisations who collect blood. A quick Google search will tell you where your nearest donation point is. You can go along without an appointment at a time that suits you. After you have donated, you will be advised to sit for ten minutes or so, drink lots of water and eat something with lots of sugar and energy in like a cereal bar.

And remember, once you’ve donated blood, you can log into the More Good Deeds app and post about your act of kindness. Not only will you have potentially saved three lives but you’ll have raised $1 for your chosen charity and hopefully inspired someone to continue the chain.

Go. Do. Experience. More Good Deeds.