Every year on 14th June we observe World Blood Donor Day, a global event that raises awareness about the critical importance of blood donation and celebrates the selfless individuals who give blood to save lives. In Hong Kong, our healthcare system faces a blood crisis, with a severe shortage of O-negative blood, the universal donor type. Blood can only be donated through the Hong Kong Red Cross. By doing so, we can play a crucial role in supporting Hong Kong's health system and saving lives.
Donate Blood in Hong Kong
Eligibility criteria for donors
- To donate blood in Hong Kong, you must be aged between 16 and 65
- If you are 66-75 but have completed any donation in the last 2 years, you can be accepted for blood donation.
- You must weigh more than 41 kg and be in good health.
Further detail on eligibility can be found here.
Locations of blood donor centres and mobile blood drives
The Hong Kong Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service operates several fixed donor centres and frequently organizes mobile blood drives nationwide. Visit their website for a list of locations and upcoming events.
Post-donation care and follow-up
After donating blood, it is essential to:
- Maintain proper hydration
- Avoid strenuous activities for 12 hours
- Monitor the donation site for any signs of infection. Donors are encouraged to report any concerns or adverse reactions to the blood donor centre.
Impact of blood donation
The shortage of blood in the healthcare system can lead to delayed surgeries, increased waiting times for transfusions, and life-threatening situations for patients in need. The shortage also places additional strain on Hong Kong's overstretched healthcare system. Blood donation is a simple, yet profoundly impactful act. Benefits include:
- Saving lives and improving health outcomes. Each blood donation can potentially save several lives, particularly if it is separated into different components (red cells, plasma, and platelets) to treat various medical conditions. (1) Regular blood donations can ensure a steady supply of blood products for patients in need, and improve their health outcomes and quality of life.
- Supporting the healthcare system and reducing strain on resources. Maintaining an adequate blood supply can reduce the strain on healthcare resources and help medical professionals provide timely and effective care to their patients.
- Enhancing community engagement and solidarity. Blood donation fosters a sense of community, as individuals from all walks of life come together to help those in need. By giving blood, you contribute to a collective effort that transcends social and economic boundaries.
- Personal benefits for donors. Donors receive a mini health check-up during the donation process, which includes blood pressure, pulse, and haemoglobin level assessments. Additionally, donating blood can provide personal satisfaction, knowing that your selfless act has made a difference in someone's life.
Misinformation on Blood Donation
Previously if you lived in the UK at a certain time you could not donate blood but the rules have been changed.
The Hong Kong Red Cross website states:
“Starting from 21 Dec 2022, members of the public who had stayed three or more months cumulatively in the United Kingdom between 1980 and 1996; and who had stayed five or more years cumulatively in France or Ireland between 1980 and 2001, will be accepted to donate blood. In other words, members of the public who had previously resided in the above-mentioned countries will all be accepted to donate blood in future.” (2)
Call to Action
As we commemorate World Blood Donor Day, we encourage you to donate blood. Your selfless act can make a difference in the lives of others and help address the blood crisis in Hong Kong's health system. To learn more about blood donation and find a location near you, visit the Hong Kong Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service website. Together, we can save lives and support our healthcare system.
1) World Health Organization. (n.d.). World Blood Donor Day 2023. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/southeastasia/news/detail/13-06-2023-world-blood-donor-day-2023
2) Recent changes to donation criteria (updated: 16 Mar 2023). Hong Kong Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service. (n.d.). https://www5.ha.org.hk/rcbts/news/news20190310?lang=en