In honour of the World Blood Donor Day on June 14th, a Tree of Hope was erected in the reception lobby of the HUH Children's Hospital. Blood donors have hung their own greetings to little patients on the branches of the tree that the Blood Service handed over to the hospital. In Finland, the prospects of cure in children’s leukaemias are among the best in the world.
In the everyday life of the Children's Hospital, every gift from a blood donor is necessary, since blood products are needed on a daily basis. About one in ten blood products in the HUS hospital district go to children between the age 0–16.
- The gift given by blood donors is of vital importance in the everyday life of the Children's Hospital. We use the safest blood products in the world to treat both premature babies and cancer patients on a daily basis, and to enable demanding surgeries, says Jari Petäjä, Director for Department, HUH Children and Adolescents.
According to Professor Martti Syrjälä, Chief Executive of the Finnish Red Cross Blood Service, honouring the Children's Hospital on the World Blood Donor Day is a poignant reminder of the fact that blood donors are a valuable link in extending help to patients.
- Donating blood on a regular basis makes it possible to save human lives, and in our activities, we always aim at ensuring the well-being of both the donor and the patient. We are proud of being able to deliver paediatric patients safe blood products every day, Syrjälä says.
The Tree of Hope sprouting with encouraging messages
With the Tree of Hope the Blood Service wants to bring joy to the patients, families and staff at the Children's Hospital, while simultaneously expressing its thanks to blood donors. The leaflets on the tree branches are full of greetings written by blood donors and other visitors to the Finnish Red Cross’ Gimis event last week.
- With this gift, we want to create a concrete bridge from the donor to the recipient, while simultaneously thanking voluntary blood donors for their invaluable gift, Syrjälä points out.
The next-generation cancer therapies under development
The Tree of Hope, green with messages from blood donors, is also a beautiful representation of growth and looking forward in life. For example, the prospects for treatment of leukaemia, the most common cancer in children, are getting better all the time thanks to emerging therapies.
- In Finland, the prospects of cure of childhood leukaemia already exceed 90 percent, when a few decades ago they were virtually zero, Director for Department Jari Petäjä says.
In addition to collecting, processing and delivering blood to Finnish hospitals, the Blood Service also constantly examines and develops new treatments for haematological diseases.
- In the coming years, I hope that also Finnish patients will benefit from the immunological next-generation CAR-T cancer therapies, Syrjälä says, shedding light on the future.
The Tree of Hope, made of domestic birch plywood, is a gift from Lovi Oy to the Blood Service.