Could you give us your liver, please?

I was browsing through Internet sites a few days ago with the main goal to find out more and more about blood and semen donors in the area of Eastern Europe, and I have found myself entangled in a web of possibilities for voluntary donations? Everything is needed in contemporary medicine ? liver, bone marrow, kidneys, heart; we need everything so as to help someone survive.

The typical stories of collective blood donation events in high schools and big factories where blood donors would get a day off from school or work, a sandwich and a glass of wine or juice are long gone. The current types of donations compel us to some serious before-handed thinking. Also, and unfortunately as everything that is needed by man, it has created a serious black market and an underground business.

Croatian distrust

The donor card policy is still not quite popular in Eastern Europe and the high distrust of the blood and organ donation is perceivable in these countries. In Croatia the blood donation is on average much lower than in Western Europe ? it is 3.8 % of the population while in Western Europe it is 5%. Could this be accredited to the ignorance and fear of citizens or just to the bad policies of the Ministry of Health? Or both?

Illustration by Amihai Green, Berlin

The semen pocket money

In the Republic of Croatia (as in other places as well) not only can you give blood out of sheer good will and true volunteerism (no extra reward) and altruism, but also if you are between 22 and 28 years of age you can earn your pocket money by giving your semen! With this noble act you could be earning as much as 200 Kuna per donation (approx. 30 euro). Although with the fact of gaining money for it the donation loses its "voluntary" status.The first blood bank was created in 1933 and therefore it is the first attempt at organizing the voluntary giving of blood.

A peculiar kind of bloody heaven

Following the national football championship finals, the blood donation day was the most popular day in my high school – X.Gimnazija (Natural Sciences and Mathematics lyceum, 70% male population). The calculation of giving a certain amount of blood in exchange for a free day from school, hanging out in the school bar having a sandwich and a glass of wine seemed like something next to heaven. I tried to join this peculiar heaven a few times but my blood pressure forced me to stay sitting on school benches. As a result of this policy, my high school got the highest amount of blood out of all institutions and made the newspaper headlines every year. 

The bleeding champion

Risto Kocev (64), a retired person from the town of Beli Manastir, Croatia, gave his blood 166 times and in this way he has given 75 liters of blood, and by this fact he is a record-holder of his kind in Croatia. He gave blood for the first time in high school, and now he gives it regularly four times a year. Risto does not drink, does not smoke and takes care of his weight by running regularly.

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