A Seventh-day Adventist blood donation program active in eight South American countries was recognized by Brazil's health ministry last week for promoting blood donation in the country.
Elbert Kuhn, assistant to the president of the Adventist Church's South American Division, represented the program and accepted the certificate at a ceremony on World Blood Donor Day, June 14, at the Blood Center Foundation in Brasilia.
The program, Vida por Vidas ("Life for Lives") contributes to the estimated 3.5 million bags of blood donated annually in Brazil, said Alexandre Padilha, the country's health minister. Brazil's government used to pay people to donate blood before churches, clubs and other organizations began encouraging regular donation, he said.
Launched in southern Brazil in 2006, Vida por Vidas is overseen by young Brazilian Adventists.
After awarding Vida por Vidas a certificate of recognition, Padilha and Brazil's general coordinator for Blood and Blood Products, Guilherme Genovez, rolled up their sleeves and donated blood. This marked the first time a health minister had donated blood in the country, an advisor said.
"The Vida por Vidas project is of extreme importance for having contributed to the increase in numbers of voluntary donors who provide healthy blood with low risk of disease transmission," Genovez said. The health ministry supports the church's emphasis on the "social responsibility involved in the act of voluntary blood donation," he added.
Between 2003 and 2010, organ transplants in Brazil increased more than 65 percent, multiplying the need for blood transfusions in the country. World Health Organization guidelines suggest that 1.5 percent to 3 percent of a country's population should regularly donate blood to maintain an adequate supply.