By Jean-Claude Brocart, Rotary-Club Toulouse-Ovalie, District 1700, France, President of Rotary Action Group for Blood Donation (RAGBD)
Did you know that each blood donation can save up to three lives? The different components of blood – red cells, plasma and platelets – can be donated to three different recipients. Rotary members in France wanted to help treat different illnesses and diseases that require transfusions. With this desire, they formed the My Blood for Others (Mon Sang Pour Les Autres in French) project.
At the end of 1997, the 20 Rotary clubs of Toulouse, District 1700, France, agreed to organize an event to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the arrival of Rotary in their city. The presidents of these clubs met and reviewed several proposals for service projects that the clubs could implement in honor of this celebration. They selected a large scale blood drive in Place du Capitole, a symbolic and central location of Toulouse.
On January 31, 1998, the goal of 1000 blood donors in a single day was exceeded with 1400 donors. It was the largest blood drive in France at the time, and the My Blood for Others project was born. The project has grown significantly to reach a record 3,764 donors in four days, thus becoming the largest blood drive in Europe.
To date, in the 18 French districts, 130 cities mobilize each year with several thousand Rotarians, Rotaractors and the family of Rotary to welcome more than 30,000 donors.
From the start, we wanted to prioritize the search for new donors: people who had never given their blood before. These new donors are particularly found among young people aged 18 and over. The My Blood for Others concept, built around this objective of attracting young people, is different from the usual blood drives because we:
- Position the event in the city center for greater visibility
- Host events leading up to the drive to attract attention
- Run media campaigns
- Offer different types of snacks to donors
- Have volunteers approach the general public to encourage them to donate their blood
- Create a welcoming environment for donors
Why do Rotary members get involved in My Blood for Others?
- The first motivation, shared by all participants, is that the project saves lives. Service Above Self is Rotary’s motto and saving lives is a wonderful achievement.
- The project is a multi-club initiative. It allows Rotary members from the same city to participate in a common achievement and to get to know each other better.
- It provides an opportunity for Rotaractors and the family of Rotary to work together.
- It spread a positive image of Rotary in the media (press, radio, television, internet, etc.).
- It encourages community engagement.
- It values the various skills of our members through the different tasks assigned to them.
- It encourages partnerships with other organizations allowing us to expand our reach.
My Blood for Others has asserted itself, year after year, as a flagship project for Rotary clubs in France and is becoming popular abroad. Since 1998, over 420,000 donations of blood have been received. Rotary members are proud to work together to save lives.
The Rotary Action Group for Blood Donation (RAGBD) aims to promote blood donations worldwide and to encourage Rotary clubs to organize blood drives in their communities.
The objectives of RAGBD are:
- To develop an international network of Rotarians and Rotaractors, their clubs and districts, families and friends, from around the world, who are involved in blood donor and safe blood transfusion projects;
- Encourage voluntary (regular) blood donation around the world (education, information, documentation, blood collection);
- Provide technical expertise where needed in developing areas of the world;
Blood is needed for transfusion for about 1 in 7 hospital patients including accident victims, cancer therapy, malaria, thalassemia, sickle cell anemia, maternal trauma. In the developing countries greatest use of blood is for obstetrics, pediatrics and trauma.
- To inspire Rotary clubs and districts to join this lifesaving and humanitarian endeavor;
- To be a forum where all parties involved may share their experiences.