“We simply can’t ignore the fact that there has been a stark reduction in the number of new donors coming forward – a trend seen across the world” Jon Latham
Latham is the assistant director at NHS Blood and Transplant center. Despite the fact that the current need for blood is being met by donors, Latham tells us “it’s important we strengthen the donor base for the future.”
Rates of blood donation are declining all over the world and the world’s happiest people are trying to change that. Sweden is trying new methods of gaining new and repeat donors that might just make the difference.
One method is that residents of Stockholm can visit their local blood service’s website and see just how much of each blood type is available for donors. Making the information readily available to everyone creates public responsibility. Karolina Blom Wiberg is a communications manager at the Stockholm blood services. She tells us that “the same info as we have internally is shown externally”. That information sharing makes us responsible for each other.
Another fun initiative includes donors signing a contract which essentially agrees to let the Stockholm blood center spam them incessantly until they donate. They would receive texts, emails, Facebook notifications etc. This method is unique because instead of the medical, professional jargon those reminders usually use…these reminders are fun and light hearted. For example, one prompt read “We won’t give up until you bleed”.
Sweden’s most recent programme uses a new system to increase the amount of donors and repeat donors. The initiative is also important for stressing the impact of donating blood. Essentially it’s two texts. Donors are sent a “thank you” text once they’ve donated blood and a second text when their blood is being used. Who doesn’t love a hero? People inherently want to help and seeing the direct outcome of their donation will encourage them to donate again.
Feeling that their donation isn’t an abstract thing but that it can actually save a life may make the difference between a onetime donation and a lifetime donor. Wiberg told The Independent that “we are constantly trying to develop ways to express [donors’] importance. We want to give them feed back on their effort, and we find this is a good way to do that.”
The overall goal is not only to get new and repeat donors but it’s also to give people the tools to recognize the importance and effect of their donations.