On the 9th of March all Estonian Business School members, all staff and students, will have the opportunity to donate blood. Being a blood donor is seen as one of the easiest ways to save a person’s life. Even when solely looking at Estonian hospitals, many patients require donated blood every day. Most of them are patients suffering from cancer and those who are undergoing complex surgeries. Nowadays being a donor in Estonia is voluntary and not paid, however it hasn’t been like this all the time.
History of donating blood around the world
Using another person’s blood reaches back to the ancient Greek doctor Hippocrates’ works, where it is claimed that drinking another person’s blood can change the mental state of the patient. It was mostly recommended to mentally ill patients in hopes that it would transfer the good characteristics of the donor on to the patient and heal them.
In 1818, British obstetrician James Blundell was the first who successfully transfused human blood to a patient using an apparatus which he created. The apparatus was used for blood transfusion up until the start of the 20th century.
Cook County Hospital in Chicago was the first to open a blood bank in 1936.
The Estonian well known North Estonia Medical Centre’s blood centre’s predecessor is seen to be the National Blood Transfusion Station, which was started by Dr Herman Paul Rossmann on the 16th of May in 1941.
Blood donation during the Estonian SSR times
During the soviet times people were motivated to donate blood because of the bonuses offered by the state to the donors. For example, most of the 18 year old individuals eligible used the chance of donating blood during the year 1983. As mentioned before, by that time only people 18 or over without serious illnesses were allowed to become a donor. People were allowed to donate blood twice a year. New donors donated 200ml and those with a year of experience or more were allowed to donate up to 400ml of blood. For reward the donors were given a day off work and a free meal at a local cafeteria. In addition to that, they also earned an extra day for vacation. As said by a donor of that time, the chance of donating blood was used by everyone amongst the old and young. People who had in-active lifestyles or been in a serious accident before wrote their blood group initials on their wrist right next to their veins so that blood transfusion could be carried out quicker without checking what type of blood that person has.
Blood donation today
Every blood donation helps at least 3 patients. The donor will have 475ml of blood taken from them, of which 25ml is used for tests and 450ml for helping patients. There are now records of 18 000 donors in Estonia. Regardless of donating blood not giving a free lunch and a paid day off work, it is still a high number of donors and it grows by every year. The benefit of donating blood isn’t only the good feeling you get when helping others, but the donor’s blood is also tested. The Blood Centre checks each donor’s blood quality and when some type of a medical problem occurs they will contact the donor to suggest ways of monitoring or improving their health. The body can reproduce the blood lost in donation in just 48 hours. According to the research carried out in the University of Kuopio in Finland, donors who have let their bodies “refuel” themself with new blood have a lower chance of an heart attack, than non-donors.
You can find hundreds of Estonian’s stories of blood donation by just searching the web. Some do it for mental contentment while others do it because they themselves needed donor’s blood before. One thing is the same for all of them; none of them are motivated by a free lunch or a day off work, but the feeling of contentment.
World Blood Donor Day takes place on the 14th of June. According to the World Health Organisation, where over 180 million donations are taken. The majority of donors are between 18-24 years old.
Why don’t you come and be a donor on the 9th of March at EBS and help save lives!
Translator: Henry Ševtšenko
Editor: Kärt Mättikas