World Blood Donor Day gave us just the opportunity we needed to say thank you to all our donors. But why take only a day when you can make a whole week of events and celebrations up and down the country? We report on our very first National Blood Week
Every year, countries around the world organise events to celebrate World Blood Donor Day (WBDD) on June 14th, the birthday of Dr Karl Landsteiner, the Austrian scientist who discovered the ABO blood group system. This year, we decided to make the most of WBDD by turning it into a week-long celebration.
"Almost 21,000 people registered...
and a further 98,000 people actually made appointments"
But behind the fun there were some important aims. We wanted to get as many people as possible to give blood, and encourage those of you who haven't donated for a while to think about coming back and donating more often. Most importantly, we wanted to thank those of you who donate regularly for your loyal support and generosity.
We arranged celebrations up and down the country. There were medieval music groups playing to people who signed up in Cambridge, primary school children took out their paints and crayons for a colouring competition in Watford, the town crier rallied support in Chester and students at a college in Newcastle helped to create artwork to celebrate the WBDD theme of 'Paint the world red'.
Donors and patients also turned out in Brighton, Liverpool, London and Birmingham, while in Yorkshire the Bradford Bulls rugby league team even muscled in to boost the numbers of people registering to donate in the area.
Celebrities were happy to join in: singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor kicked off the campaign by donating blood at our West End donor centre in London. She says, "When I heard about all the different uses of blood and the mothers who receive blood during labour, it really hit me how important it is for me to do my bit to help."
Singer and presenter Jenny Frost popped in to the West End too to book an appointment; while Coronation Street actress Kym Marsh and ex-Eastender Joe Swash pledged their support via Twitter and encouraged their followers to make a date to donate. Although we only recently set up Facebook and Twitter accounts, we managed to attract over 10,000 followers to the Blood Facebook page and our Twitter feed increased from 200 followers to 900 in just one week - pretty impressive!
As you can see, the week provided a great opportunity to put blood donation in the spotlight. There were over 202,500 visits to www.blood.co.uk, with nearly 41,000 hits on WBDD alone, the busiest day ever recorded on the website! Overall, the aim of National Blood Week was to recruit tens of thousands of new donors to fill the gap left by donors who can't give blood any more. As a result, almost 21,000 people registered to become blood donors and a further 98,000 people actually made appointments to donate.
Thanks to the hard work of donors, staff, celebrities and the general public, the week was one of our most successful campaigns to date and we hope this is just the start of even greater success to come.
BANGLADESH - A colourful rally was held at the Chittagong Medical College Hospital which included free blood grouping and information on the Voluntary Blood Donation Programme.
GERMANY - A 12- hour blood donation 'marathon' in Essen included information on blood and component donation. Everyone who attended received a WBDD photo.
IRELAND - Blood and platelets donors who had reached their 100th donation were honoured at an awards ceremony attended by the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese.
NEW ZEALAND - All the donor centres around the country celebrated with special cupcakes and treats for donors. Celebrities and politicians also donated.
SINGAPORE - There was a day of fun at the Science Centre and donors were also treated to a day of entertainment which included 'Blood Runs', 'Red Parade' and a children's colouring competition.
SWITZERLAND - World Health Organisation staff and volunteers made a 'human blood drop' at Place des Nations in Geneva where a special blood donation clinic was set up.
WALES - Wales Millennium Centre in the heart of Cardiff Bay was lit up red in honour of WBDD and members of the Welsh rugby union national squad raised a red flag to show their support.