The 2012 London Olympics grabs headlines and world attention across the globe. Everyone is excited and thrilled for their favorite sport event and tourists from all over the world flock into UK’s capital to witness another gigantic event that will change the course of history. Just as everyone is hyper and ecstatic for the Olympics, there is one group that may not fully be as enthusiastic as the others. The National Health Service Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) expresses their worry for blood shortage during Olympics and they urged people to insert blood donation in their summer to do list.
1.2 million visitors, which includes the 15,000 athletes from all over the world are expected to come to UK. In major sporting events like this, blood supplies are low since people forget to make appointments. NHSBT said that blood stocks must be 30% higher than normal by the start of the Olympics so they can cope with the extra visitors that are arriving.
Jon Latham, assistant director of blood donation at NHSBT, had earlier stressed the importance of having enough blood supply during the Olympics. “Every unit of blood saves or improves the life of three people. We obviously want to make sure everyone enjoys the Games, and want to make sure that if there are any accidents we have the blood supplies to help them recover quickly.”
Why do they need blood this Olympic season?
Clearly, the Olympics season will be a busy time for everyone – from athletes to local tourists to businessmen – and not one is ever likely to think of making a blood donation appointment amidst all the fun and frolic. Which is why the NHSBT has made vigorous moves to urge people to give blood before everyone else in town gets busy.
As of July 25, 2012, the NHSBT said that blood stocks have been boosted by 30% in preparation for the 2-week Olympics. Weeks before the games start, 468,000 have participated and rolled up their sleeves to give the gift of blood. But as Jon Latham cautioned, a drop in donations during the first few weeks of the Olympics could affect the stocks for September, when the Paralympics will be under way.
Blood has only a 35-day shelf life so the NHSBT continues to invite people to give blood throughout August to have enough blood supply until the end of Paralympics in September.
Nonetheless, Latham conveyed words of gratitude to the thousands of selfless people who took time to give blood. “We want to say a huge thank you to all the donors who helped us hit an ambitious target to help the nation prepare responsibly for the Games,” he added.
You may be wondering why they are so eager to collect blood from people. Is it really necessary? Can’t blood donation wait until Olympics is over?
Well, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, blood is needed all the time. Since UK is experiencing an influx of visitors, it is precautionary to prepare for accidents that could happen. When the time comes, a life can be saved with each pint of blood people have donated.
Aside from the regular therapeutic processes (dialysis, chemotherapy, surgery, trauma) that British patients are expected to use up blood, the need to augment the blood supply for unexpected tourist injuries and athlete injuries too.
There is also a particular demand for “super donors” – those who have O-neg blood. An O- blood type is considered the most needed if by chance several of the million visitors may need an RH-neg blood transfusion, O-negative blood type will come to the rescue if an RH-neg blood type is not available.
There are over 30 sports events in Summer Olympics and 15 tough sports in Winter Olympics. In a publication of a study on injuries incurred during the 2008 Olympics listed the following sports where athletes are most likely to get (during practice and in competition) injured from:
tae kwon do
While injuries would range from:
ruptured or torn ligaments
Though not one of the injuries is bound to draw blood, trauma and surgery needed for these injuries require patient’s blood type on stand-by.
This year, London’s going to be jammed with fans who are keen to witness their favorite sports played by their sports idols. Games like contact sports, modern pentathlon to diving, water polo to field hockey and football can get very physical. There were instances in Olympics history where athletes are injured during practice and in competition.
Hungarian weightlifter Janos Baranyai suffered a dislocated elbow during the 2008 Beijing Olypmics Weightlifting Competition. Japanese Olympic champ Mizuki Noguchi has backed out from the marathon in Beijing because of thigh and groin injuries. American basketball player Blake Griffin has officially withdrawn from the 2012 Olympics team to undergo surgery for his knee injury.
Whether it’s a knee or waist injury, or a dislocated ankle or elbow – these injuries still need serious medical attention, and most often, when the severity of injury requires operations, blood transfusions are never out of the picture.
The Olympics is one huge and fun event anticipated and participated in by the whole world every 4 years. Athletes and participants may gather as rivals in the name of sports, but one thing is for sure: for the sake of blood donations, we all roll up our sleeves in the name of love. The Olympics may be that time of the year when different countries compete for honor, but it also can be that moment when the true spirits of brotherhood and unity are determined by blood donations.
Appeal for blood donors before the Olympics
London Olympics 2012: Blood donor appeal ahead of Games
Urgent need for O Negative blood donations before the Olympics
Blood donations need Olympic boost
Blood stocks boosted for the Olympics
Janos Baranyai injury
Mizuki Noguchi injury
Blake Griffin off Olympic team with knee injury
Summer Olympic Injuries 2008