In advance of World Blood Donor Day on Sunday 14 June, Vytenis Andriukaitis, EU Commissioner for Health & Food Safety, celebrates Europe’s blood donors and encourages more to join the cause.

On 14 June, the European Commission will join the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the celebration of World Blood Donor Day. This is an opportunity to thank the people worldwide who are collectively responsible for 100 million donations of blood each year. Blood donors in Europe can be commended for 20 million of these donations – one fifth of the global total.

As a blood donor myself and as a former surgeon I know first-hand the importance of having a stock of all blood types for transfusion. Blood transfusion is an essential part of medicine all over Europe. It allows medical professionals to perform major surgery, treat traumas and treat patients with numerous chronic conditions.

Blood donation is life-saving, and a truly noble and compassionate act. Being voluntary and without any financial benefit, as is the guideline in Europe, makes donating one's blood one of the most generous and humane gestures I can think of. This gesture is within the reach of almost all of us.

I would like to thank all Europeans who make time in their busy schedules to donate blood, and all those who work to make blood donation and transfusion services safe and effective.

I would also like to encourage more Europeans, especially those with rare blood types, to take steps to donate blood voluntarily. As European Health Commissioner I can assure potential donors that EU legislation ensures the highest quality and safety standards of donated blood. Without voluntary blood donors, no EU country would be able to provide sufficient blood for all patients who require transfusion. Blood donation is therefore both noble and necessary.