Number of active blood donors has increased significantly over the years

In Estonia, a total of 36,255 people gave blood in 2014. The overall number of donors decreased by 3 percent compared to 2013, but over a longer period, there has been a significant increase in blood donors, says the National Institute for Health Development.

Blood was donated 60,890 times last year, meaning each donor donated 1.7 times on average. Compared to the figure for 2013, the result was slightly lower (0.6%).

“If we look at the share of repeat donors out of all donors, the percentage has grown by one percent over the year,” said analyst Ingrid Valdmaa. “The number of new donors is decreasing over time, but the number of people who have been repeat donors is increasing. For instance, there are 20% fewer first-time donors in the last four years, but there is 7% more repeat donors.

The donors included 518 apheresis donors. Valdmaa explained that apheresis is different from ordinary blood donation process in that only one or more specific needed components is separated from the blood during the procedure, and the rest of the blood is returned to the donor’s bloodstream.

People who have given whole blood repeatedly without incident and are in good health with normal test results are eligible to be apheresis donors. The procedures were administered a total of 2,145 times last year, which comes to an average of 4.1 procedures per year per donor. The number of apheresis procedures has nearly doubled in the last four years.

The data published by the institute also include data on donor gender and age groups. It shows that men and women are equally represented in blood donorship. While there are more women than men among whole-blood donors (51.5%) the apheresis donors are 99.8% male, as expected due to the criteria for the procedure.

“At blood centres, it’s more the younger people who give blood, and at blood donation tents it’s older people,” added Valdmaa.

Statistics on willing but ineligible donors was also published for the first time. Eligibility is re-evaluated each time a person comes in to give blood. This ensures safety to donors and patients. People were deemed ineligible on 7,955 occasions last year. The main reason (43.5%) was that the donor had a low blood haemoglobin level.

Blood components prepared from donor blood are used in difficult operations and complicated births, and in treating patients suffering from cancer, liver disease, haemorrhage, severe injury, anaemia, leukaemia, burns and many other diseases. Last year, blood components were used at Estonian hospitals to treat a total 19,454 patients. Thus it can be said that each blood donation helped save the lives of three people.

Health Statistics and Health Research Database: Production and Use of Blood Components in 2014

Source: National Institute for Health Development