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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Blood Donors In Demand

Blood needed urgently!" Such announcements have become a regular sight on health-related Internet sites and forums., the web site of volunteer organization Donors For Children, lists the most critical needs of just one hospital -- but Moscow has dozens more. Blood banks are constantly struggling to supply patients; operations and transfusions are postponed because of a constant lack of blood. Despite improved safety and hygiene at donation centers, not to mention the moral satisfaction of helping others, donors aren't coming to blood banks in droves.

Major blood transfusion centers in Moscow have sterile closed-system equipment with laser-sharpened technology that makes the procedure painless and free of infection risk, said Pavel Reizman, deputy director of the Russian Federal Blood Center. Additionally, donating blood can be beneficial to your health: "There have been studies that showed lower risk of heart ischemia among regular blood donors," he said.

Even so, there are few regular donors in the capital: While the adequate ratio is 40 donors per 1,000 people, in Moscow that figure has fallen as low as 10 per 1,000, Reizman said. The bulk of blood supplies comes from patients' relatives, rather than anonymous volunteers.

Russian law allows five donations per year for women and four for men, which gives more than enough time for your blood supply to be replenished, Reizman said. All donors give a blood sample that is inspected for HIV, hepatitis B and C antibodies and syphilis, with other blood tests carried out after the donation takes place. By law, donors are entitled to two days off work, the day of donation and one additional day.

Technically, you can even be paid for giving blood: 600 rubles for 450 milliliters. Paid donors are required to bring additional test results from their physician and regularly undergo medical checks. But the best donors are voluntary since they don't have any incentive to withhold information about past conditions, said Yekaterina Chistyakova, the coordinator of Donors for Children at the Russian Children's Clinical Hospital, or RCCH.

Before the monetization of benefits, federal laws gave regular voluntary donors other perks, including additional vacation time. Forty donations made you an "Honorary Donor," entitling you to free public transportation, medical treatment and discounts on monthly housing fees.

"I was six donations away from becoming an Honorary Donor when the law changed, and I haven't gone to donate since then," said Natalya, a Moscow region resident who withheld her surname. "In the 1980s and '90s, there were lines at the blood banks, and now they get very few people," she added.

There is a younger generation of donors that is not used to the old system of benefits, however.

"When I'm sitting in the donor chair waiting to lose fractions of my blood that are needed by someone else, my life is filled with meaning," said voluntary donor Dmitry Kuzyakin, who gives platelets every month at RCCH. "It's worth it."

Vadim Zhernov / Itar-Tass
Donors usually have to be Russian citizens registered in Moscow or the region.
Donors For Children, the RCCH donor recruitment program, is the reason why 80 percent of donors at the hospital are unpaid volunteers, said Chistyakova. Other clinics and transfusion centers are not as successful, not least because of a lack of information and promotion.

"Most donors come in times of crises that they hear about, like Beslan or the explosion at Pushkinskaya," said Reizman of the Federal Blood Center. "But 500 blood doses are needed in Moscow hospitals every day for difficult childbirths, cancer patients and victims of car accidents. Every one of these people is going through their private Beslan."

What to Donate

Besides whole blood, you can also donate platelets, leukocytes and plasma via apheresis, a longer procedure that takes one component and returns the remaining blood components back into the body.

When to Donate

Permanent restrictions are HIV, tuberculosis, leprosy, any blood diseases, heart conditions such as ischemia and hypertension.

But even healthy people are not permitted to give blood in some situations. A year must pass after giving birth or getting a tattoo, a month after overcoming the flu, two weeks after taking antibiotics, 10 days after having a dental procedure, five days after menstruation, two after drinking alcohol, 24 hours after eating fatty or spicy foods, and one hour after smoking.

Who Can Donate

An often-cited peeve of turned-away donors is the inability to give blood without a Moscow or Moscow region registration stamp in a Russian passport. "There is a database of donors in Moscow and Moscow region that keeps their information. People that contract HIV or a skin disease have a mark in their record and become ineligible for life," said Reizman. While there is a Moscow region database of donors, there is no national database. The Children's Clinical Hospital is one place that does not require donors to have Moscow registration, but, like other hospitals, it requires Russian citizenship.

Where to Donate

Central Blood Transfusion Station, 8 1st Basmanny Per., 207-2557, M. Komsomolskaya, Open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekdays. Registration required unless donating for a specific patient.

Moscow Blood Transfusion Center, 14/2 Ul. Polikarpova, 945-7606, M. Begovaya; 31 Bakinskaya Ul. 327-2747, M. Tsaritsyno; Open from 8.30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays, and the second and fourth Sat. of the month. Registration required.

Russian Children's Clinical Hospital, 117/2 Leninsky Prospekt, 2nd floor, 517-2286, Blood component donation, Mon., Tue., Thu., Fri. 9-11 a.m. for initial evaluations. Russian citizenship required.

Russian Federation Blood Center, 6/2 Shchukinskaya Ul., 193-1773, M. Shchukinskaya/Sokol, Open 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on weekdays. Registration required.

Russian Hematological Center, 4a Novy Zykovsky Proyezd, 612-3533, M. Dynamo, Open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays. Registration required unless donating for a specific patient.