John Paul II Encourages Blood Donors

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 13, 2004 ( John Paul II encouraged Catholics to donate blood as a gesture of «high moral and civic value,» when World Blood Donor Day is observed Monday.

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After praying the midday Angelus today, the Pope referred to the motto of this year’s World Day, «A Gift of Life,» and made his appeal.

«To give one’s blood voluntarily and for free is a gesture of high moral and civic value,» he said. «May donors, who deserve everyone’s gratitude, be present in all parts of the world.»

The official Web page of this World Day ( states: «More than 80 million units of blood are donated every year, but only 38% are collected in developing countries where 82% of the global population live.»

«Yet evidence from around the world demonstrates that voluntary unpaid donors are the foundation of a safe blood supply because they are least likely to transmit potentially life-threatening infections, such as HIV and hepatitis viruses, to the recipients of their blood,» it adds.

Monday has been selected as World Blood Donor Day by three major organizations working for voluntary blood donations: the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; the International Federation of Blood Donor Organizations; and the International Society of Blood Transfusion.

These organizations have been joined by the World Health Organization, which is co-sponsoring the event.

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