Abbott is Inspiring a Blood Donation Movement

What do soccer and blood donation have in common? Cristiano Ronaldo is passionate about both.

Cristiano Ronaldo
In October 2015, Abbott (No. 14 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list) and Real Madrid soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo launched the BE THE 1 Donor movement to inspire people to donate blood, especially first-time donors. Since then, the movement has gained momentum around the world.

So far, more than 80 blood and plasma centers in Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, Greece, Northern Ireland, Kuwait, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States have embraced the campaign.

Here are some ways blood and plasma centers have helped bring BE THE 1 to life:

- It starts with getting the word out: The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) unveiled a variety of BE THE 1 advertisements to encourage people to donate. The DHA also hosted a press conference and provided mobile blood-donation stations across the city to promote the campaign. As a result, blood donations in Dubai increased by 37 percent, with 40 percent of donations coming from first-time donors.

Appearing in Dubai's Al Bayan newspaper

- Resolve to help others: At the beginning of 2016, the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service launched BE THE 1 to encourage people to make blood donation a New Year's resolution. After giving blood, donors were invited to take selfies next to pop-up stands featuring Cristiano Ronaldo.

- Appeal to soccer fans: The Danish Blood Donor Association played the BE THE 1 video featuring Ronaldo at various soccer matches to inspire new donors.

- Drive to donors: The National Blood Transfusion Service in the city of Ibadan, Nigeria, hosted its first community blood drive with a BE THE 1 bus to encourage people to become regular, voluntary donors. According to the World Health Organization, an adequate supply of safe blood can only be assured by a steady base of regular, voluntary, unpaid blood donors. These donors are also the safest group as the rate of blood-born infections is lowest among this group. Currently, only 10 percent of blood donations in Nigeria are from voluntary donors. The National Blood Transfusion Service in Ibadan hopes to change that trend through ongoing activities like blood drives with the BE THE 1 bus.

Driving the message across Nigeria

- There's an impact around the world: For example, in the cases of Kuwait and Zambia, the launch of this program helped these regions to experience a 30 percent increase and a 22 percent increase in donations, respectively.

In addition to the countries mentioned above, BE THE 1 activations are also underway in Belgium, Switzerland, Thailand, and many more locations.

Inspiring donors at a Red Cross blood-donation center in Thailand

It's not just about blood — plasma is needed, too

Plasma, which is the clear, straw-colored liquid portion of blood, carries out a variety of functions in the body, such as blood clotting, fighting diseases and other important functions. When donated, this component is used to produce therapies that treat people with rare, chronic diseases and disorders such as primary immunodeficiency, hemophilia and a genetic lung disease, as well as in the treatment of trauma, burns and shock. In 2016, the BE THE 1 movement also started encouraging people to consider plasma donation. Similar to blood donation, the plasma donation process is safe. The first appointment will take about 2 hours, while return visits can take about 90 minutes.

Why blood and plasma donation are so important

- Blood is not just used for emergencies, but also for the treatment of chronic conditions, such as sickle cell disease or cancer.

- Approximately 1,200 plasma donations are needed to treat one patient for hemophilia.

- While donating blood or plasma takes time, when put into perspective, this single act can help a number of people.

- The blood or plasma used for emergencies or treatments needs to be on the shelf beforehand.

Join the movement!

To join Cristiano Ronaldo and become a part of BE THE 1 movement, follow these easy steps:

1. Visit www.bethe1donor.com

2. Click on the "Join the Movement" button to share on Facebook that you're part of the movement

3. Click on the "Donate Blood & Plasma Now" button to find where you can donate

4. Click on the "View & Share" button to watch and share Cristiano's video on Facebook

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