Blood Service appeals for extra donors over holiday season

Many donors make a point of donating blood over Christmas, when then know the service is in need of extra supplies.

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File picture of a woman donating blood at Iso Omena in Helsinki / Credit: Jari Härkönen, Veripalvelu

The Finnish Blood Service, run by the Red Cross, says it needs people to donate blood between Christmas and New Year, and have opened a number of centres across the country today where people can donate blood.

The service needs 800 blood donors every day to treat seriously ill patients, and new donors are needed all the time.

While red blood cells can be stored for five weeks and still be viable for medical use, thrombocytes – which are pieces of large cells in the bone marrow – can only be stored for a short period of time.

“When we get the thrombocytes from the whole blood which is donated, the product is usable only for five days after donation. They have a very short life span. And that’s why we need to keep our donation centres open” explains Willy Toiviainen, the Finnish Blood Service Communications Director.

“Thrombocytes are needed especially for cancer patient treatment, so they are needed all the time in the hospitals” he tells News Now Finland.

Extra donations over Christmas

Blood donation centres are open today in Helsinki, Espoo, Kuopio, Oulu, Tampere and Turku, and while there’s a need for all bloody types during the holiday season, the Finnish Blood Service website shows that supplies of A+, A-, O+ and O- are running particularly low.

“We have during this Boxing Day a few of our biggest offices open, and also last Saturday before Christmas we had a really good day with 200 donors more than expected” says Toiviainen.

He adds that some people make a point of coming in during Christmas each year to make a ‘gift’ of a blood donation, because they know that supplies can run low.

“Usually Christmas time is very demanding for us, and we hope that people will donate when they have their holidays. But on the other hand blood donors are very committed to helping the patients, so we have to be very humble because we ask people to come on their day off and donate, and we are very thankful that Finnish donors are donating even during the holidays”.