June 14 is World Blood Donor Day, an opportunity to celebrate the people who give their blood to help patients in need and to raise aware of the tremendous importance of every donation.
Our donors are the cornerstone of everything we do at Octapharma. As Senior Director of Operations, Centre Development, Octapharma OPI, Jonathan Prater, notes: “It’s important to remember that our business is built upon donors volunteering to help us. In order to ensure the future supplies of our life-saving products for patients, we will always need donor volunteers.”
On a late spring afternoon in Paris in 2003, Elodie Neuner watched in horror as a car struck an elderly man as he crossed a road. As she tried to process the aftermath of this accident, she felt compelled to become a donor. "I thought some good should come of this," she says. "I imagined that this elderly man could have been my relative.”
Elodie attended her first donation with her godmother, who explained all the different steps of the blood donation process to her – from doctor visits to the blood donation itself. “I was eighteen years old when I gave my blood for the first time,” remembers Elodie, who now works at the Octapharma production site in Lingolsheim, France.
“I didn’t feel sick or anything. I felt rather proud and happy that my godmother supported me in giving blood! Since then I have made over 70 blood and plasma donations,” explains Elodie, who was recently honoured by the French Ministry of Health for reaching her 70th donation.
Like Elodie, Imke Franzaring, a Marketing Manager at Octapharma Plasma Germany, also has a successful plasma donation career. “I have been donating since 2017 and this year I made my 80th donation. I’ve got a little scar in the crook of my arm but I like that scar! Every time I look at it, it makes me feel proud, knowing that I will keep on donating my plasma to give other people a chance to feel as good and healthy as I do,” says Imke.
Each donation typically takes 45–90 minutes, with each donor giving 300–880ml of plasma. Every year, Octapharma processes over six million litres of plasma donated by hundreds of thousands of committed donors – equating to more than ten million individual donations!
In the US and Germany you can donate plasma twice within a seven-day period. In France, plasma donations can be made every fifteen days while for blood donations it is up to a maximum of 4 times per year for female donors and 6 times per year for male donors. In France it is also possible to give blood platelets once per month. “It depends on your health status and the time you can give – 15 minutes for a blood donation, 40 minutes for a plasma donation and 1 hour to donate blood platelets,” adds Elodie.
With hundreds of thousands of patients in 118 countries urgently needing our products, Octapharma has been increasing collection capacity in the US and Germany to meet growing demand, adding 30 new centres across both countries in 2019.
Like Imke said, “Blood plasma gives patients a new lease on life. It's such an easy thing to do, it costs you nothing but time, and you come away feeling brilliant because you're doing good.”
What exactly does opening a new donor centre mean in practice? OPI leaders Alice Stewart, Bill Griner, Carole Michelson and Jonathan Prater gave an insight into how their teams are driving donor registration and collections across the US earlier this year.
The world may have stopped, but the need for blood continues. Every two seconds, someone needs a transfusion. Despite the challenges, donors continue to leave the safety of their homes to give a part of themselves to help others. Each blood donation goes towards saving and improving lives. Watch the video below created by Octapharma Portugal thanking all our donors for the gift of life.