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Blood donation is dependent on the goodwill of people, to voluntarily donate blood, without financial reward. There is a continuous need for new blood donors, because the demand for donor blood is increasing, whereas the supply of blood is declining. Only 3% of the eligible population members actually donate blood. This leaves an enormous potential blood donor base, which if tapped into and maintained could lead to an adequate reserve of donations to meet the transfusion needs of this country. The focus of this paper will be on how social marketing can be effective in increasing blood supply.
Understanding and facilitating the recruitment and retention of blood donors is the major contribution that the social and behavioral sciences can make to transfusion medicine.
For the medical profession, the amount of blood a hospital has in stock for immediate or emergent use is a critical issue. Blood is needed for emergencies. It is also needed for people who have cancer, blood disorders, sickle cell anemia and other illnesses.
Annually, donating blood saves many lives, both young and old. Communication is the key to success, and we need to communicate the importance of blood donation to the general public. Most people respond to issues that relate to their own lives. (Duffy. 2001)
As advertising professionals, we must develop a plan to show the public that one day blood donation could mean life or death. One day blood could be needed to save their life or the life of a loved one. When donation of blood becomes a priority to our society, then able bodied donors will have a greater will to participate. Blood drives should be advertised with depth and weight on an emotional level, emphasizing why it should be important to the individual who takes the time to donate. People will undoubtedly ask, “How is this going to benefit me”? We need to be able to produce such evidence, and if we can, then people will have a greater will and motivation to give.
Some experts estimate that if everyone that is qualified to donate would participate in donation at a blood drive two to three times a year, blood shortages would be eliminated. Encouraging more Americans to become regular blood donor will ensure that most area hospitals will have a safe and plentiful supply of blood that is available wherever and whenever it’s needed. Blood is without a doubt something special, it cannot be manufactured nor can it be replaced by animal blood. Some reports have shown that each year 4.5 million American lives are saved by blood transfusions.
Aside from traumatic events such as a severe automobile accident with serious bodily injuries, there are many different reasons why someone would need to have a blood transfusion. Some people need transfusions on a routine basis as part of their medical treatment for an illness or disease. One of the major groups of people in need of blood transfusions frequently, or for treatment purposes, is those infected with sickle cell anemia. According to the Mayo Clinic, 80,000 people around the country have this disease and these patients “require frequent blood transfusions throughout their lives” (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2007).
Our society has not placed a high priority on blood donation but it is a social responsibility. The donor should be donating it with confidence that it will be used in saving lives of his fellow beings. This should be an important point of conveyance when advertising information about blood donation. People have a desire to do what is morally right. Educating the public is another key element that is needed to increase the public’s general understanding of the need to have a constant and abundant blood supply.
Some points that need to be addressed during education is that the average amount of blood present in an adult is 4-5 liters or about 8% of the body weight. And life cycles of the different components are short. The red blood cell lives about 120 days while white cells last about 3-9 days. New blood cells are constantly generated in the body. A person can donate blood 168 times during his 18 to 60 years. Unfortunately, most Americans only donate blood a few times throughout their lifetime, and some people never donate blood at all. (Mayo Clinic, 2007).
Unavailability of blood may cost lives. Hence, importance of blood donation is tremendous. This is the greatest gift one can give to the fellow humans. Voluntary Blood Donors are saviors of mankind. If someone really loves oneself and other fellow beings, the only way to express it is to donate blood voluntarily. The message we send to the public should be clear and urgent. We must change the current mindset from occasional donation, to frequent.
Many studies have shown that there needs to be a personal incentive to become a frequent donor (Transfusion 2003). A study done in 1995 and reported by Transfusion concluded with a suggestion that free cholesterol testing or health related discounts at blood drive locations has increased the number of donors over the last 10 years by 65%. The use social networking programs such as facebook and twitter have been successfully used to increase awareness among the young adult generation. (Transfusion. 2010).
Some other countries have tried to offer items of limited value or blood credit bonus programs that could be safe and effective strategies for retaining donors. (Asian Journal of Transfusion Science. 2010) Conclusions have shown that discounted or free medical tests had the votes for popular appeal. In America, we have to focus on these incentives for our future supply and demand needs.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (March 28, 2007). Sickle Cell Anemia. Retrieved July 8, 2007. from the world wide web May 14, 2012 http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sickle-cell-anemia/DS00324
Baluch, Bahman, Gurch Randhawa, Sherryl L. Holmes and Linda J. Duffy (2001). Signing the Organ Donor Card: The Relationship between Expressed Attitude, the Actual Behavior, and Personality Traits. Journal of Social Psychology 141(1): 124-126. Titmuss, Richard Morris (1972). The Gift Relationship: From Human Blood to Social Policy. New York: Vintage Books.
Blood donor incentives: A step forward or backward. Asian Journal of Transfusion Science. 2010 Jan; 4(1)9-13
Glynn SA, Williams AE, Nass CC, Bethel J, Kessler D, Scott EP, Fridey J, Kleinman SH, Schreiber GB; Retrovirus Epidemiology Donor Study (2010).
Incentives for blood donation in the United States: implications for donor recruitment. Transfusion Jan; 2010 (1):26-40.
Attitudes toward blood donation incentives in the United States: implications for donor recruitment. Transfusion. 2003 Jan ;43(1):7-16.
American Association of Blood Banks. 2004
American Red Cross Organization. 2003
Plasma Care. 2003