With roughly 11 million residents, Greece collected 550,000 units of blood in 2015 and needed to import another 25,000 from Switzerland, where a population of 8.3 million yielded 310,000 units in the same year and used just 248,000.
One of the reasons for this poor performance, experts say, is that Greece’s 95-odd hospital blood collection departments are responsible for their own awareness campaigns, donation drives and stock management. “The system is fragmented,” says Haris Matsouka, head of the National Blood Donation Center.
Another problem is that most Greeks donate blood only when it is needed by family or friends. Perros Rapanakis of the Costas Mesogitis donation group, says around 45 percent of donations come from patients’ close circle.
“We want to change the mentality of giving blood for one person to giving blood for everyone,” says Matsouka.