In Peru, the deficit of donated blood needed for transfusions and other procedures exceeded 70 percent in 2013. Of the 600,000 units of blood needed that year, only 185,000 were available, and only five percent of those came from voluntary donations. For Claudio Yauri, who graduated from Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas (UPC) in 2011, solving the blood bank crisis in Peru has become a personal mission.
“I realized that there was no national consciousness about the deficit of available blood or the importance of having fully stocked blood banks,” Yauri says. In 2014, he was studying the lack of available blood in the country because of his interest in the issue and decided to do something about it. Yauri founded the Asociación Peruana de Donantes de Sangre (Peruvian Association of Blood Donors), with the mission of “promoting the voluntary, unpaid donation of blood” in the country.
Since its founding, the association has become a major force in Peru, working to dispel fear among citizens about donating blood and explaining how a deficit in available blood leads to unnecessary deaths. The group conducts workshops and blood drives with private and public companies, universities and even the Peruvian government, partnering with the Ministry of Health at five national hospitals. The association always works with medical professionals, thus combining Yauri and his team of volunteers’ grassroots organizing skills with sound medical knowledge. So far, over 1,000 people have donated blood through the association’s blood drives, benefitting over 3,000 people.
For Yauri, the work of the association is a necessary reaction to what he sees as a preventable problem.
“I can’t sit still when people are dying because of a lack of [blood] donations,” Yauri says. “I want to be an agent of change for my country.”
The association has started a major fundraising campaign to build and staff the country’s first center for voluntary blood donations and also is looking to acquire vehicles for mobile blood drives. The group hopes to expand to other parts of the country, bringing awareness about the issue to an even greater portion of the Peruvian population, and continuing their mission of decreasing the donated blood deficit in the country.