A couple of weeks ago, I came across a paper where the authors had used machine learning to discover the best predictors of blood donations. Why was this an important application? Because blood donations save lives; and because, despite its importance, blood harvesting is, usually, a not for profit venture. Thus, any insight that can increase the cost-effectiveness of this life saving initiative is important.
Now, I could use this blog post to dissect the interesting insights (the key predictors, by a long distance, were having a donation date scheduled, and being contacted about donating). Or I could discuss why machine learning seemed to work so well for this context, but seems to be less useful in others (the reasons: there were a lot of data for the machine learning to work with; and the behaviour being modelled was very well defined). But neither of those aspects are the reason why I am mentioning this paper, on Christmas eve.
I am fortunate enough to be spending the festive season at home, with my family. I hope that you are enjoying this period however you want to, as well. However, there are many people who will be spending this period in hospital. Some will be the victims of accidents. Others will need surgeries. And others, still, will go into hospital to receive treatment to help them manage conditions such as anaemia, cancer, haemophilia or sickle cell disease, to name a few. The common factor among all of them is that, this Christmas, their lives could be saved because a stranger decided to donate blood.
Donating blood is easy, safe and, in most cases, very quick. Unless you are donating platelets or plasma, you could be in and out in less than an hour.
Think about that: you could be saving someone’s life by agreeing to sit down on a very comfortable chair, while a machine draws around 470 ml of blood from your arm. You even get a treat afterwards.
So, this Christmas season, please consider booking an appointment to donate blood. In the UK, you can do that at www.blood.ac.uk. In the US, at www.redcrossblood.org. In India, at www.indianredcross.org/ircs/program/BloodBank. In Portugal, at www.sns24.gov.pt/tema/dadiva-e-transplante/doacao-de-sangue/.
Oh, and that paper?! You can access it, here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10796-021-10149-1