Every year as winter ends, Luxembourg's blood banks end up nearing depletion and require blood donors.
Although the country has a rather large reserve of volunteer blood donors (13,000), Luxembourg's hospitals often face periods where more blood transfusions are required than at other points of the year. This usually occurs by the end of winter, as is the case this year.
According to Dr Andrée Heinricy, the doctor in charge of the Red Cross's Luxembourg City transfusion centre, the blood bank is at its lower stock limit. This is due to the last winter season, as there were a number of influenzas affecting residents in Luxembourg.
Everybody is eligible to donate
Whilst certain factors do prohibit some people from donating, e.g. certain medications, illness, recent tattoos, recent travel to specific countries, and certain risky sexual practices, globally all residents and cross-border workers are eligible to donate.
Once registered, the Luxembourg Red Cross (Croix-Rouge Luxembourgeoise) will call donors when its stocks are low. As Dr Henricy explained, the organisations sends invitations based on their needs and based on blood group. Unfortunately, the response rate remains low, which is why the organisation sends out a number of invitations.
If you are already a registered donor, the easiest way to donate is to send a positive response to the latest invitation to give blood. If you haven't already registered, there is still time to request an appointment to register.
Mobilising potential donors is crucial in light of the organisation needing to renew its volunteers. In order to compensate the departures of older donors, the organisation has to search and recruit between 1,000 and 1,5000 new donors each year. Thankfully, Dr Heinricy, explained, young people are happy to join. She confirmed that the Red Cross's most successful recruitment campaign takes place at the student fair.
Donations needed throughout the year
While the Red Cross may make targeted appeals, this is mainly an efficiency question and way of managing donors. Dr Anne Schumacher, biologist and head of the Red Cross's laboratory, explained that donations must have continuity rather than peak periods.
Whilst donations may trail off during certain times, the demand for blood transfusions never ceases.
The Red Cross consequently struggles to equalise stocks, as they cannot be too low or too high. Blood cannot be kept forever: red blood cells can be kept for 42 days and platelets for five.
Five mistakes to avoid when giving blood
Giving blood on an empty stomach: When giving blood, you are advised to eat normally.
Thinking the process takes ages: Your first appointment could last one hour and fifteen minutes, as you have to fill in a form and meet to ensure you're eligible before donating. Afterwards, you also receive a snack to restore iron levels. For a regular donor, this should take 37 minutes.
Being scared of pain: Giving blood is no more painful than a blood test, with the donation lasting between five and ten minutes.
Fearing you might faint: People fainting from giving blood is rare, even if the stress or sight of blood might frighten some donors. Professionals are present at all times if you do require assistance.
Leaving without your snack: You need to restore your iron levels and recover after a blood donation. You should also drink plenty of fluids after donating blood.
Men are asked to donate a maximum of four times per year whereas women should donate a maximum of three times a year. As well as blood donation centres in Luxembourg City near the Glacis (wich is open between 8am and 4pm Mon/Tues/Fri, and to 6pm on Wed/Thur), there are also mobile blood giving centres throughout the country.