On 2018 World Blood Donor Day, let us remember that blood is the lifeline that connects us and that we all have a pivotal role to play in donating blood to help save lives. In particular, I would like to invite young people to come forward, to ensure that our blood banks do not diminish and are constantly replenished.
Blood transfusions are a vital medical intervention used worldwide to treat a wide variety of disorders, both in emergency and non-emergency settings. The majority of these disorders can be life-threatening without a timely blood transfusion, which is why the immediate availability of safe donor blood is paramount. As a former cardiac surgeon, I know how true this is.
To encourage blood transfusions and avoid related complications, including the transmission of diseases from donor to recipient the EU has laid out directives that set out safety standards for blood collection. Moreover, the European Commission is currently carrying out the first formal evaluation of this legislation since its adoption in 2002. The evaluation is taking an in-depth look to see if the legislation has achieved its objectives and if it is still fit for purpose. As there have been many scientific, societal and epidemiological changes since 2002, I believe that our citizens deserve to benefit from the latest developments in health and safety.
The European Commission also actively supports EU countries, through the Public Health Programme, to continuously improve blood donation and blood supply programmes, appropriate clinical use of this precious resource and effective oversight procedures for ensuring safety and quality.
Given that the aims of the World Blood Donor Day include raising awareness of the importance of regular and safe blood donation and thanking the thousands of unpaid blood donors worldwide, I am proud to say that there are 20 million blood donations in the EU every year, resulting in 26 million blood transfusions to patients.
Together, let us do all we can to continue this trend and to ensure universal access to safe and timely blood donations.
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