World Blood Donor Day 2016: Blood connects us all

Source: V.P. (Vytenis) Andriukaitis i, published on Tuesday, June 14 2016.

The motto of this year's World Blood Donor Day is "blood connects us all". I could not agree more. Whatever our gender, nationality, ethnicity, religion or political views, each one of us has one of four blood types running through our veins: A, B, AB or O, and with a simple matching procedure, we can share our blood with each other.

On 22 March of this year, Brussels - the city I have called home for a year and a half, was devastated by coordinated terrorist bombings. These horrific attacks took the lives of 32 victims, and over 300 people were injured, many of whom required blood transfusions.

I was extremely heartened to hear that many thousands of people responded to the appeal of the Belgian Croix-Rouge to donate blood. Whilst this beautiful city was under the darkest of clouds following these attacks, the humanity and solidarity of the people who took time to donate blood provided a glimmer of light.

Thankfully, a disaster of this scale is exceptional. However, Europe's hospitals need to be equipped with sufficient stocks of all blood groups at all times. Blood is essential in medicine. We all can find ourselves in a situation where we need blood transfusions to recover from blood lost during surgery, or after a major accident, or as a treatment for certain diseases.

Blood connects us all. One day, you donate blood and the next you may need it to survive. This is why, as we mark World Blood Donor Day, I encourage Europeans to show solidarity to their fellow citizens by donating blood.

And as European Health Commissioner, I am proud to say that in the EU we have developed a safety and quality framework through the 2002 "Blood Directive" to guarantee quality and safety of human blood across the EU.

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