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Bankers Show Their Heart in Backing Blood Donor Week

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Group photo marking the start of the 2023 Bank Blood Donor Week. Minister of Agriculture István Nagy is in the front row, fifth from right, with Jelasity Radovan, president of the Banking Association, at his left shoulder. 2023 Expat CEO of the Year Veronika Spanarova, of Citi, at third from right.

Photo by Gyula Bartos.

For the fourth year in a row, the partnership between the Hungarian Banking Association and the wider Hungarian banking community has been solidified through the Bank Blood Donor Week initiative. This year, the Hungarian National Bank (MNB) has added significant further weight to the event by collaborating with the Good Bank program.

In its official announcement, the Hungarian Banking Association emphasized that this year’s Bank Blood Donor Week has been extended to run for two full weeks, from Monday, Oct. 2 to Friday, Oct. 13. This extension shows its dedication and commitment to the cause, the association says.

During this period, blood donation sessions will be organized at 12 locations in Budapest, with two more in rural areas.

The Good Bank initiative has been at the forefront of this blood drive. Now in its fourth year, it has seen active participation from bank employees ranging from clerks to senior executives, demonstrating their commitment to community health. Their donations are critical to ensuring the continued availability of blood products, often urgently needed for medical procedures.

Hundreds of units of blood have been successfully collected over the years. These have been processed into thousands of vital blood products that play a critical role in patient recovery. As a testament to the importance of the initiative, the MNB has not only endorsed it but is now actively involved.

This involvement extends to the highest levels of the bank. Nor is it limited to the banking sector. Key figures from various government ministries have also pledged their support. One example is Minister of Agriculture István Nagy, who is no stranger to the cause, being a regular blood donor. Nagy attended this year’s inaugural event, where he thanked each participating donor.

The critical nature of blood donation cannot be overstated. Hungary has an urgent need for 500,000 units of blood annually. This is primarily to ensure a reliable and safe supply is always available for medical use. It is estimated that half a million altruistic voluntary blood donors are needed to meet this demand.

Make a Difference

“The commitment of approximately 1,600-1,800 blood donors on a daily basis is paramount to maintaining the reliability of our blood supply,” Nagy explained. “As a regular donor, I earnestly invite everyone to take up this mantle and make a tangible difference. By donating, you become an integral part of a larger community, a community that has the power to create positive change, to do real good, and most importantly, to save precious lives,” he added.

In the same vein (no pun intended), Csaba Kandrács, deputy governor of MNB responsible for financial supervision and consumer protection, highlighted the central bank’s contributions even before it joined the program.

“Last year alone, our dedicated employees at Magyar Nemzeti Bank were responsible for donating nearly 1,000 units of blood. This was achieved in eight different sessions. To put this into perspective, these donations were instrumental in saving around 3,000 lives,” he said. He went on to explain the broader implications of these actions.

“The consistent and active involvement of Hungarian commercial banks in the announcement and subsequent organization of Blood Donation Week under the banner of Good Bank is a clear testimony,” Kandrács said.

“It shows that these institutions are not just about business; they have a heart. They understand their role in society and go beyond just donating blood. Their commitment extends to investing both financial resources and time in various social responsibility programs. This includes not only blood donation but also other avenues such as educational initiatives, customer awareness, and various consumer protection programs.”

Another deputy governor, Barnabas Virág, responsible for monetary policy and financial stability at the MNB, took a moment to underscore the essence of societal unity.

“Acts of selflessness, epitomized by blood donations, are fundamental to our social fabric. More than that, they are shining beacons illuminating the path of mutual responsibility,” he said.

Ambitious Goal

The deputy director general of the National Blood Service, Sándor Nagy, expressed his optimism that this event would not only achieve its goals (the aim is to set a donation record this year) but also set a precedent for other sectors to emulate.

Jelasity Radovan, president of the Banking Association (and CEO of Erste Bank Hungary), added: “Our goal this year is ambitious. We want to reach an all-time high in blood donors during Bank Donor Week.”

Beyond Budapest, the initiative’s reach will extend to a couple of countryside regions. The National Blood Service, in cooperation with the Hungarian Red Cross, has taken on the task of overseeing the logistical and professional aspects of the entire program.

In Nyíregyháza and Békéscsaba, bank employees and the general public have the opportunity to donate blood at specially established centers.

The coronavirus epidemic had a silver lining to its dark cloud. The association says it brought members of the banking industry together in a common cause. This unity gave birth to the Good Bank initiative, a CSR program designed by the banking community. The Bank Blood Donor Week stands out as a keystone event within this framework. Recognizing the need to extend its reach, this year’s program has been expanded to a fortnight, with a particular focus on reaching more remote parts of the country this year.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of October 6, 2023.

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