From barcoding systems to anti-shock garments: 5 innovative approaches to making blood donations

By Theresa Rager

Today—June 14— marks the World Health Organization’s World Blood Donor Day. This year’s theme is “Blood Connects Us All”, with a mission to thank donors and raise awareness for the need for regular blood donation. Each year, 108 million donations are collected worldwide. Yet, only 50 percent of these donations are collected in low-and middle-income countries where 80 percent of the world’s population lives.

Blood donation is most often needed for women suffering from pregnancy complications, including ectopic pregnancies and hemorrhaging, children with severe anemia often due to malaria or malnutrition, patients injured by severe trauma, and some medical treatments necessary for cancer patients. CHMI profiles 98 programs working with these target populations to collect, store, and deliver blood to patients. In celebration of World Blood Donor Day, CHMI is highlighting five of these programs.

The Prathama Blood Centre is a non-profit blood bank in India. Through technologies including robotics, barcoding systems, and Enterprise Resource Planning software, this program is able to run a blood bank as efficient and modern as those in developed countries but with operating costs reasonable for developing economies. Furthermore, Prathama Blood Centre has blood donation vans, increasing their blood donations through a faster and easier donation process.

Blood 24/7 uses ICT to connect blood donors and recipients through an Android app. Recipients in need of blood can send a request based on blood group at any time, and donors can respond by replying through the app. With this innovating use of technology, Blood 24/7 is helping India meet their blood requirements, connect donors of the same blood groups, trace donors in a given location, and create awareness about blood donation.

Because of the complications that can come with childbirth, including blood loss, Partnership for Maternal and Neonatal Health works to increase the number of institutionalized births in Kenya and enhance care for women in labor. Their facilities are equipped to offer basic emergency care services such as blood transfusions should complications arise.

LifeWrap is a Non-pneumatic Anti-Shock Garment (NASG) used to treat obstetric hemorrhage by applying pressure to a woman’s lower body, slowing blood flow and forcing blood to other key organs. This neoprene device has proven to be lifesaving in low resource settings where women may wait days for emergency care and blood transfusions.

In India, the Highway Rescue Project networks existing infrastructure to start pre-hospital care and initiation of treatment within an hour after an accident. By connecting ambulances, hospitals, blood banks, police stations, cranes, and metal cutters, this program coordinates care over 1,000 km of national highways.

There is a constant need for a safe blood supply as blood can only be stored for a limited amount of time. Regular donations can help ensure that blood is available for patients at any time in any location. Innovative programs in global health continue to increase this blood supply, provide blood transfusions, and reduce disease leading to necessary blood transfusions.

If you are interested in learning more about blood donation or safety, visit WHO’s World Blood Donor Day page and WHO’s Response to Blood Safety.