Saving lives can be quick, easy and very gratifying

Blood is given freely and such genuinely altruistic gestures seem to be few and far between these days

I have a bit of a confession to make. Don’t worry, it’s nothing gross or embarrassing. It is as simple as this: I have to admit that I have never given blood in this country. Giving blood was something I used to do regularly when I still lived in the UK, but since coming to live here I have never got round to it. What makes it all the worse is that it’s not because of a medical problem or anything, it is simply because I have been too lazy and inefficient to sort it out. And giving blood is easy, so there’s absolutely no excuse.

How easy it is to do you can find out on pages 24-27, where we have a feature on Catalonia’s Blood and Tissue Bank, as well as an interview with one of the blood bank’s directors. We all know how important it is for hospitals to always have blood available, and in Catalonia the system is very well run. Yet, what reading the feature brought home to me, even though in theory I already knew it, was that blood expires. Naturally, that means it is very important to not only give blood, but to keep giving blood, as there is a constant need. Another thing the article made me realise is that blood is needed, not just for accidents and emergencies, but daily, for thousands of patients suffering a variety of illnesses.

As the blood bank director Enric Contreras says in an interview on page 26, giving blood should really be considered a civic duty. In our 21st century world of individualistic consumerism and instant gratification, we often seem happy to hand off our social responsibilities to the authorities, companies and, these days, even machines and devices. A gesture as simple as giving blood is a way of making a generous contribution to our fellow humans and our community. Blood is given freely and such genuinely altruistic gestures seem to be few and far between these days. The only profit motive involved in any way is the benefit you get from how good it makes you feel to know you have disinterestedly helped someone in need.

What’s more giving blood hardly takes any time, and so we cannot even resort to the oft-heard excuse that we are simply too busy, which is something I am guilty of. If you don’t give blood, I urge you to look into doing so, I for one will certainly be signing up and finally doing my duty.

Blood and Tissue Bank Pages 24-27
Some two decades ago all the blood banks in Catalonia were brought together under one organisation, the Blood and Tissue Bank. These days the organisation carries out more than 4,200 collection campaigns around the country. However, Catalonia’s hospitals need a lot of blood, some 1,000 donations a day to be specific. Last year, 253,123 donations were made. And nor is it just blood that is required, but also plasma, breast milk, umbilical cord, and other tissues. While the donation system in Catalonia works well and efficiently, what keeps it ticking over is the generosity of the donors.
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