Donors could chose one of six pre-drawn designs for each blood type, hundreds of people lined up outside the Finnish tattoo shop before the event. (Photo Fanny Haga)

Free blood type tattoo with donation draws crowds in Finland

One in two people is eligible and able to donate blood, but only one in 60 people actually do

What would you do for a free tattoo?

The Finnish Red Cross launched a campaign this past February offering free blood type tattoos to highlight the misconceptions surrounding ink and blood and encourage a new generation of donors. In conjunction with a local tattoo shop, hundreds of people lined up hours before the event, to get one of six pre-drawn designs for each blood type tattooed for free.

David Patterson, director of donor relations for Canadian Blood Services, says it’s a neat idea and with the close network of blood operators around the world, he’s sure they’ll have a look at it.

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“Generally we do a good job of working with our partner organizations from around the world to find new and interesting ways to [promote giving blood],” says Patterson, highlighting a text message service implemented a couple years ago that informs donors of the status of blood and when their donation has been used.

In Canada, donors need to wait only 90 days after getting a tattoo before being able to give blood — cutting the deferral in half from the previous year which used to be six months.

“[Plus] we know people who get tattoos aren’t afraid of needles so that’s a really good thing from our perspective,” added Patterson.

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Currently in Canada one in two people is eligible and able to donate blood, but only one in 60 people actually do. Patterson says the need for blood is always there, especially O negative — the universal donor.

“If I’m driving home today and I get in an accident and they don’t have time to take my blood, they can safely give me O negative,” he says.

Women wanting to donate blood must wait 84 days in between appointments and men must wait 56 days before donating again – and with spring break upon us, what better time to donate?

“Spring break is a time when many people take time off to be with friends and family and as such, we often have empty beds around,” says Patterson. “If folks have time off this week — we’d love if they take a moment to [donate].”

For more information on donating blood in Victoria visit or call 1-888-2-DONATE (366283).

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