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HONORING THE WORK OF THE RED CROSS
Published on May, 2020
H E K T O R A M A

 

 

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ALL BLOOD RUNS RED
Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross

Clara Barton

The American Red Cross (ARC) is an independent, neutral organization ensuring humanitarian protection and assistance for victims of armed conflict and other disasters. Based on the Geneva Convention of 1949, its work primarily consists of responding to emergencies, promoting international humanitarian law, and implementing it.

Stimulated by the global Red Cross network in Europe, Clara Barton and her associates founded the ARC in Washington, D.C. on May 21, 1881.1 Barton was its first director. The ARC conducted domestic and overseas disaster relief efforts for the United States Army during the Spanish-American War and World Wars I and II.2

 

By Mel Diomampo

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BLOOD MNEMONICS

Two photographs in Dunant’s Dream, Caroline Moorehead’s meticulous and moving history of the Red Cross, can be juxtaposed to illustrate a key aspect of this organization’s work.

The first shows Henri Dunant, now regarded as “the father of the Red Cross.”1 In June 1859, this thirty-one-year-old businessman was traveling in Italy when he witnessed the aftermath of a battle between Franco-Italian and Austrian armies at the small town of Solferino. This harrowing event became the defining experience of his life.

 

Poster for the red crescent. A crescent shape drains to white as it infuses blood into an arm.

By Chris Arthur

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A young boy hangs a red cross flag in his window

THE MYSTERIOUS RED CROSS BOY

 

 

I am Alex, from the Igbo tribe in the South-East of Nigeria, and I was born out of wedlock in 1991 to a single mother who died in 1998, while waiting for her lover, my father, to return back the love she gave him. The lover never returned, he did not even attend her funeral. I was alone, crying amidst unknown relatives. In 2000, the lover returned to take me, because I am a boy. Then my father died in 2005 and I was alone again, crying beside his grave amidst unknown relatives. Now, I am still alone, but I no longer cry, perhaps because there are no more tears to cry or because there are no more surprises of pain left to witness. Life conditioned me not to believe in anything positive, not even miracles. I only believed in things I see, and then I witnessed a miracle.

 

 

By Emeka Chibuikem V.

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THE HISTORY OF THE RED CROSS / RED CRESCENT IN BLOOD

 

 

Following a number of highly visible incidents and legal liabilities surrounding the arising HIV epidemic in the 1980s, The League was concerned about the potential risk posed by National Society’s participation in blood and the very threat to the existence of the organization as a whole. The decision was made to focus on the promotion of VNRBD recruitment, which supports the provision of a much safer and lower risk donor group than paid or family / replacement blood donation. A group of experts was set up to share knowledge and provide advice to National Societies on the proper management of the risks associated with blood programs; anticipating the group would share its results with Geneva from time to time.

 

By GAP Secretariat

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THE RED CROSS AND HEMATOLOGY PIONEERS
White flags with the red cross and red crescent are suspended against the shy

The humanitarian service of the Red Cross began between 1859 and 1863 with the advocacy efforts of Swiss businessman Henry Dunant. Dunant campaigned for the establishment of volunteer organizations that could impartially attend to war-wounded soldiers and other victims of armed conflicts.1 That campaign has grown into a world-wide service, namely The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.2 Today, the movement forms a network of 80 million people with a presence in almost every country.2 The service mission is “to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found.”3

 

By Barnabas Pastory

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RED CROSS TARGETS EMOTIONAL IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE
Red Cross volunteer offers support to a victim of a climate change related disasterNatural disasters are growing in frequency and intensity worldwide. Mother Nature demonstrated her devastating fury in over 300 global events of intense wind, rain, floods, and fire in 2019, and the 2020s should see more of the same. Other issues, such as excessive heat and drought, are causing diminished availability of food and water. Every year, natural disasters already kill an average of 80,000 people worldwide.1 Many thousands more are physically injured, and millions are displaced from homes, in addition to the billions of dollars of structural damage. Some of these calamity locations may be hit once again in the near future, causing even more havoc.

 

By Sharon Cohen

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A HISTORY OF BLOOD TRANSFUSION: A CONFLUENCE OF SCIENCE
A British soldier receives a battlefield blood transfusion

 

 

 

 

Since 1628 when William Harvey discovered the circulation of blood, there had been hope that blood transfusion would be possible. Harvey expressed the awe in which physicians of the time regarded blood when he said, “We conclude that blood lives of itself and that it depends in no ways upon any parts of the body. Blood is the cause not only of life in general, but also of longer or shorter life, of sleep and waking, of genius, aptitude and strength. It is the first to live and the first to die.”1

After Harvey’s discovery, transfusion attempts began. In 1665 Richard Lower kept dogs alive by transfusing blood from other dogs.2 In 1667 French physician Jean Denys transfused nine ounces of blood from the carotid artery of a lamb into the vein of a young man. He continued the practice until the third patient so treated, died.3 Denys was sued by the wife of the deceased patient, who presumably died from a hemolytic reaction, but was exonerated. However, the French Parliament, the Royal Society, and the Catholic Church subsequently issued a general prohibition against transfusions.4

 

By Kevin R. Loughlin

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FIRST PRINCIPLES
 

The Surgeon at Work at the Rear During an Engagement portrays medical care during the Civil War

The surgeon at work


The law of war is enshrined in treaties but steeped in blood.

In 1859, a young Swiss businessman was traveling through Italy when a savage battle between French and Austrian forces commenced. Seeing “how many unfortunate men were left behind, lying helpless on the naked ground in their own blood,” Henry Dunant sought to render aid in the grisly aftermath.1

He observed. He recorded. “With faces black with the flies that swarmed about their wounds, men gazed around them, wild-eyed and helpless. Others were no more than a worm-ridden, inextricable compound of coat and shirt and flesh and blood.” Beloved husbands, sons, and fathers had gone to war; now “all lie stretched in the mud and dust, drenched in their own blood! The handsome manly face is beyond recognition, for sword or shot has done it disfiguring work.

 

Ambulance Corps. Method of removing wounded from the field depicts the aftermath of battle in the American Civil War. 

Ambulance Corps. Method of removing wounded from the field depicts the aftermath of battle in the American Civil War.

By Charles G. KelsREAD ARTICLE

 


 

 

VAMPIRES AND BLOOD TRAFFICKING
Photo of of the IFRC Blood program, fighters of blood trafficking

 

 

 

 

The question of paid versus voluntary donation of blood dates back to the 1920s, when the Red Cross first became involved in transfusion thanks to Percy Oliver’s work at a neighborhood branch (division) in London. Responding to a call from a local hospital for blood transfusion donors, Oliver appealed to chapter members. Based on the response, he organized a list of potential donors “on demand,” pretested for type, and screened to prevent transmission of disease.2 This soon became a model for other but not all countries. 3

In Paris, for example, several hospitals cooperated to develop a shared list of potential donors, and the French government provided small payments for their “loss of time, travel expense and possible fatigue.” In New York City, a union of donors was organized who negotiated a price for giving blood with a guarantee to stay healthy.

 

By William Schneider

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THE INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE RED CROSS AND RED CRESCENT
Gustave Moynier, founder of what would become the Red Cross and Red Crescent Society

Gustave Moynier

Guillaume-Henri Dufour, founder of what would become the Red Cross and Red Crescent Society

Guillaume-Henri Dufour

Louis Appia, founder of what would become the Red Cross and Red Crescent Society

Louis Appia

Théodore Maunior, founder of what would become the Red Cross and Red Crescent Society

Théodore Maunior

 

In 1919 The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) was founded in Paris in the aftermath of World War I. The activities of the Societies attracted millions of volunteers, and hence Europe could not lose such a precious asset. It was Henry Davison who proposed forming a federation of these National Societies. He also initiated an international medical conference resulting in the birth of the League of Red Cross Societies, which was renamed in October 1983 as the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; and later as the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in November 1991 (IFRC). Britain, France, Italy, Japan, and the United States of America were its founding members. The principles of the IFRC are humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity, and universality (IFRC Annual Report., 2016) with Per Humanitatem ad Pacem (“With humanity, towards peace”) as its motto.

 

By Mawuli Tettey

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RED CROSS HUMANITARIANISM AND FEMALE VOLUNTEERS IN AUSTRALIA

 

Women like Tracey have undertaken Red Cross humanitarian relief work for decades and have been the backbone of the Red Cross Movement. They freely provide their time and effort to create a safe and caring place for disaster victims at a point of crisis in their lives. They patiently listen to stories, show empathy, and provide relief assistance to ease pain, suffering, and trauma.

What is often overlooked is that the Red Cross also bestows benefits on its predominantly female workforce. This understated achievement of the Red Cross is missed by many.

 

By Ian Willis

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THE PAST AND FUTURE OF BLOOD BANKING
An illustration of early blood letting and donation

 

Blood oozes allure. The elixir of life, viscous and dramatic scarlet, courses through the veins of every living human. Blood has been viewed as sacred for centuries. Aristocrats used to sip at it to stoke their youth and vitality. Bram Stoker’s quintessential vampire novel, the revered Dracula, was published in 1897. Since at least the 1970s, blood has been used in visual art to explore topics such as violence, gender, and race. Almost every horror movie boasts abundant gore for the viewers’ pleasure, and all classic film-goers must remember the hypnotic red waves splashing across the hotel foyer in The Shining. In the candid words of the poet Goethe, “Blood is a juice of a very special kind.”1

 

By Eva Kitri Mutch Stoddart

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BLOOD AND WAR: PRESERVING PLASMA AND HUMANITY

Black and white photograph of Charles Richard Drew holding lab instruments

 

Amidst the fighting and chaotic nature of World War II, the need for proper blood banking was greater than ever. Millions of soldiers were dying without proper blood transfusions, and the cost of saving many lives was in the hands of the Red Cross. Dr. Charles Richard Drew was one of the first researchers to use plasma as a treatment for shock and blood loss.1 In addition, Drew also ameliorated and standardized methods of blood preservation, which was crucial for saving millions of lives during World War II. The methods discovered by Charles Drew are still utilized today by the Red Cross and have continued to help save millions of lives.1

 

 

By Navanjana Siriwardane

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