You may have already become aware that the need for blood donors in this country – in fact, around the globe – are needed more than ever. Ask any travel nurse in the U.S. and they’ll tell you that they see the shortage from coast to coast, from facility to facility. Unfortunately, fewer than 10% of people who are able to donate blood actually do each year. When someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds, why aren’t more people donating?
According to the American Red Cross, it’s usually only because people simply “never thought about it.”
However, it’s important that we do think about it, which is precisely why President Richard Nixon in 1970 declared January National Blood Donor Month as a reminder for people to donate and to also pay tribute to the people who do so.
Facts about Donating Blood
Millions of people — including organ transplant recipients and donors, accident victims, cancer patients, and more – count on blood being at the ready. The critical need for blood has been relayed by the Red Cross in its emergency call for donations amidst a brutal winter season across much of the country. As part of National Blood Donor Month, it behooves us all to learn important facts and information about donating blood and the need for everyday donors to become heroes:
- The blood type that is most often requested by hospitals and emergency response organizations is type O blood; type O negative blood can be used for patients who have any blood type. It’s the universal blood type so it’s always in great demand but usually, in short supply.
- Almost 7,000 units of platelets and 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed each day in the United States.
- Only 7% of people in the U.S. have type O negative blood.
- Only 3% of people in the United States have AB positive blood, which is unfortunate because AB positive blood donors are universal plasma donors.
- Just one injured car accident victim could potentially need up to 100 pints of blood to survive.
- Almost 7 million people donate blood in the U.S. each year.
- An estimated 38% of the population is eligible to donate, but only 10% of those who can, do.
- A single blood donation can help more than one person.
- Donating blood is very safe; a sterile needle is used once for a donor, then it is discarded properly.
- The process of donating includes just three steps: registration, a mini physical, and then the donation. You’ll get something to drink and snack on afterwards.
- The actual time to donate blood is only 10-12 minutes; with the rest of the steps included, the entire process takes only over an hour.
- Typically, donated blood cells have to be used within 42 days of them being collected; hence, the need for a constant supply of donors.
To learn more about how you can help by donating blood or to find a blood drive or donation center near you, you can visit the Red Cross website. You can also use the American Red Cross Blood Donor app to not only find a place to donate, but also to earn rewards and track where your donation is and how it’s used. Whether you regularly donate blood or are considering donating for the first time soon, know that you will actually be saving peoples’ lives with your donation. What could be better than that?