Transfusion and Apheresis Science 50 (2014) 136–138

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Norwegian red cross – 80 years in service for blood donors Tor Ole Bergan a, Tor Hervig b,c, Jerard Seghatchian d,⇑ a

Norwegian Red Cross, Oslo, Norway Department of Immunology and Transfusion, Haukeland University Hospital, Norway Department of Clinical Science, University of Bergen, Norway d International Consultancy in Blood Components Quality Improvement and DDR Strategy, London, England, UK b c

a r t i c l e

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Article history:

a b s t r a c t The voluntary, non-remunerated blood donation organization is the important part of the International Red Cross movement. Historically the Red Cross Blood Program was established in Oslo with the main objectives to recruit new donors, support the blood banks with recruiting materials and to support in recruiting efforts made by local Red Cross branches. Currently the continual education of the recruited skilled personals, at all levels, is considered to be an essential part of such a program. The 2013 coincide with the 12th anniversary of Norwegian educational program in Quality in Transfusion Medicine. This report focuses on the historical background on the Red Cross Quality Course in Transfusion Medicine, as well as the progress made so far and looking into future perspectives. Ó 2014 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

1. Back to basics On background of experience from Red Cross in England and the Netherlands, Norwegian Red Cross established in 1933 in Oslo a register of donors, where doctors could ask them to come to the hospitals for donating directly to the patient. As the need for donors increased, a similar system was established in several other Norwegian towns. Gradually, Central Blood Donor Programs were organized and appropriate skilled personnel were recruited. The Second World War was the real stimulus for establishing a blood bank at The National Hospital (Rikshospitalet) in Oslo, in cooperation with Red Cross. Later, this developed to be Red Cross Blood Center and developed further to be the leading center in Norway, with active engagement in research and among others the plans for a national plasma fractionation program for Norway. In addition it was considered to be the most important and largest blood bank in Norway. In 1996 it was decided by the National Health Authorities that all blood banks should be hospital-owned, and the Red Cross Blood Center was therefore laid down. All donors ⇑ Corresponding author. E-mail address: [email protected] (J. Seghatchian). 1473-0502/$ - see front matter Ó 2014 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

and staff were transferred to the Blood Bank at Ullevål University Hospital and the Oslo Blood Bank was formed. When the Red Cross Blood Bank was taken over by the Ullevål University Hospital, it released a lot of money from sale of stock and inventory. In view of historical ’’know how’’ in donor recruitment the Norwegian Red Cross management took responsibility for the Norwegian blood donors and the money were used to establish a funding for blood donation activities. Accordingly the immediate focus of Norwegian Red Cross was to introduce the voluntary, non-remunerated blood donation as the important part of the International Red Cross movement, the Red Cross Blood Program was established with the main objective to recruit new donors, support the blood banks with recruiting materials and help and support in recruiting efforts made by local Red Cross branches. 2. Current national and international blood programs Currently Norwegian Red Cross Blood Program is the only establishment involved in continual quality improvement of donor recruitment throughout the country. In 2003, a web-based recruiting channel,, was established. Accordingly donors can be recruited to all 74 donation sites in Norway. About 70% of all Norwe-

T.O. Bergan et al. / Transfusion and Apheresis Science 50 (2014) 136–138

gian donors are recruited through this channel. In addition local Red Cross branches are performing recruiting campaigns, and in sum about 90 % of Norwegian donors are recruited through Red Cross. Never the less, Norway is amongst the European countries with lowest donor population compared to number of donations. In 2010 Norwegian Red Cross, with grate help from our authorities, financed a national campaign, which helped a great deal in improving the donor recruitment practice. Last years, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have also become more important tools in improving the recruitment. Although the recruitment/retention situation is continuously improving, Norway is far from self-sufficient in plasma collection. Norway is buying plasma products made from paid donors and this incompatible with the official political goal of only using blood from voluntary, non-remunerated donors. To assist these efforts, the Norwegian Red Cross Program has financed the two blood buses in Norway, operating in the Bergen and Oslo areas. On the international arena, the Norwegian Red Cross Blood Program is supporting several international and local foreign achievements to recruit safe donors. Currently, the program supports several blood transfusion establishments in Romania, Georgia, Albania and Russia. Even though Norway is a rich country with a blood service 100% financed through the health budget, feedbacks from the blood bank personnel clearly indicate that there is a continual need for national educational and training programs, focusing on new developments and continual quality awareness in transfusion medicine. 3. Establishing the quality course Before the second millennium there was hardly any special national educational course for updating the professional blood bank employees, making them aware of new ideas and current opinions in the ever growing transfusion medicine or to share new information about donor recruitment. The only exceptions were some regional and national meetings. Traveling to international meetings is considered to be too expensive for most blood banks facilities, should they send numerous numbers of staff. To overcome the potential shortcomings in educational programs for the blood bank employees, attention is focused to expose staffs, at all levels, to current opinions in donor motivation, collection, processing and testing, as well as, to the continual developments on safety/quality awareness, with the main goal of achieving the best clinical practice. The Red Cross Blood program has therefore opted to have its own continual educational program, with the help of its Advisory Board consisting of eight voluntary members, where at least one shall be a medical blood bank expert. In 2002 this Advisory Board, by a request from transfusion medicine experts, planned to arrange an annual quality transfusion course, taking up topics important for blood banks staff at all levels. The principal goal of the course is to educate participant attendees on blood safety and management including better use of blood donation and blood products, blood conservation, transfusion alternatives in everyday clinical practice and donors’ recruitment practices.


These annual gatherings take place in Norwegian Red Cross own establishment in Oslo, either in May or September. Very often the lectures are quite theoretical, a level too advanced for some of the participants, while other lectures relate to common practice and are more interactive in nature. However, attempts are continuously made to enhance the staff awareness of new diagnosis, development and research in the field of transfusion medicine, by inviting international experts in the field of both transfusion medicine and blood banking. It is hoped that such continual exposure to current developments of peers who are successful in their fields, and the encouragement of interactive approaches will be of benefit to those who desire to become multi-skilled in transfusion practices.

4. New perspectives and monitoring the outcome Before the first annual course in 2002 the organizers were anxious about the number of interested participants, and we witnessed over 78 attendees, plus the lecturers and organizing committee. An evaluation form and other participant feedback enabled us to gauge how well the course was meeting its purpose, and we applied the lessons learnt, as we highly value the participant input, most of which highlights that the course has been a success. By contacting the different occupational groups, we have been able to offer the participants educational points, for medical transfusion experts post-qualifying education and for technologists’ special acceptance. A special social interactive program and dinner is included in the program to encourage face-to-face communications and networking, with some witty speeches and entertainment. In 2012 we had 155 regular participants. In addition we had a workshop panel, lecturers and the course organizing committee, together totaling 176 attendees. For 2013, the participation increased further, reaching 180. The logistics of organizing these courses for successful outcomes are very challenging, as the Red Cross has only one dedicated person for this program, and this work is done in addition to a regular work routine, consuming a considerable amount of time. Moreover, the smooth running of the program requires a lot of work in advance, during and after for the follow up. Currently we have the help and additional input from the arrangement committee, now consisting of six persons from all over Norway and from different hospitals/blood banks, and with different backgrounds. This enables us as a team to continuously improve operational aspects and to ensure the smooth running of the course by providing many regular breaks and handouts. In practice, each course includes lectures by experts in chosen topics, mostly by Scandinavian experts, with lectures delivered in Scandinavian languages. However, we also want to have at least some lectures by medical experts from abroad, where the lectures are held in English. In 2013 for the first time, the course was in Norwegian only, covering special topics of current local interest. It included many lecturers from the other Scandinavian countries, and had some influence from abroad. We hope to further broaden our quality course and to create an


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innovative strategy to increase participation of all Scandinavian-speaking countries. Normally, the course is for two days, featuring six hours of lectures each day. But in 2007 we had a special event where the course was for three days, divided into two subsequent sections. One and a half days in English only with lecturers mainly from USA, and the remaining day and a half in Norwegian with Scandinavian lecturers. The participants were given the option to participate in both sections, or to take either the Norwegian or English sessions. This event was in cooperation with The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA. Most of the years the lecturers have been invited to produce a short abstract or hand out of their lectures to be distributed in advance and many have been eager to do so. The summary or commentary of these events is often submitted to be published in Transfusion Aphaeresis Science, in the ‘‘What’s Happening?’’ Section of the journal, by the Senior Editor of this section, who is also regularly invited to attend this meeting to share information gained with broader groups of readers, and with the broader concept that ‘‘sharing is caring’’. 5. Back to the future The Norwegian Red Cross Blood Program is fundamentally based on the ‘‘common touch’’ and transferring

experience/knowledge among peers who have considerable expertise in transfusion medicine, with plenty of creativity, imagination, and diversity among attendees. The course is innovative and is supported by the many occupational pressure groups to be accepted as a higher qualification. The program has another important common touch as it also often contains some innovative ideas and opinions from participants who influence areas of potential interest to all, through submitting various evaluation forms and expressing their views on the real success of the course. Congratulations are due to the organizing teams and attendees who often make the course interactive. They also suggest relevant topics to be included in future programs to continuously improve the educational quality standards of the course. The Norwegian Red Cross considers its organization to be a dedicated ‘‘server’’ to the world without frontier. Quality assurance of the blood program is therefore critical, as it means that we can have confidence in both the foundation of our undertaking and its continual improvement for building our future to benefit of all. With the 12th annual course already in place we hope this successful endeavor will have great longevity. ‘‘The most precious educational journey, without end, for decades to come.’’

Norwegian Red Cross--80 years in service for blood donors.

The voluntary, non-remunerated blood donation organization is the important part of the International Red Cross movement. Historically the Red Cross B...
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