January is Blood Donor Month

Every minute of every day, someone needs blood. That blood can only come from a volunteer donor, a person like you who makes the choice to donate. There is no substitute for your donation. When you make a blood donation, you join a very select group. Currently only 3 out of every 100 people in America donate blood.

To locate a local blood donation center click here

 Facts about blood needs

  • Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood
  • More than 38,000 blood donations are needed every day
  • One out of every 10 people admitted in a hospital needs blood
  • Total blood transfusions in a given year: 14 million (2001)
  • The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints
  • The blood type most often requested by hospitals is Type O
  • The blood used in an emergency is already on the shelves before the event occurs
  • Sickle cell disease affects more than 80,000 people in the U.S., 98% of whom are African American. Sickle cell patients can require frequent blood transfusions throughout their lives
  • More than 1 million new people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment. 
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 units of blood. See more facts on blood needs for various medical treatments

 Facts about the blood supply

  • The number of blood donations collected in the U.S. in a year: 15 million (2001)
  • The number of blood donors in the U.S. in a year: 8 million (2001)
  • The number of patients who receive blood in the U.S. in a year: 4.9 million (2001)
  • The volume of blood transfused to patients is increasing at the rate of 6% per year (2001)
  • The demand for blood transfusions is growing faster than donations
  • Less than 38% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood
  • Blood cannot be manufactured — it can only come from generous donors
  • Shortages of all blood types usually occur during the summer and winter holidays

 Facts about the blood donation process

  • Donating blood is a safe process. A sterile needle is used only once for each donor and then discarded
  • Blood donation is a simple four-step process: registration and medical history, mini-physical, donation, and refreshments
  • Every blood donor is given a mini-physical, checking the donor’s temperature, blood pressure, pulse and hematocrit level (red blood cells count) to ensure it is safe for him or her to give blood
  • The actual blood donation typically takes less than 10-12 minutes. The entire process, from the time you arrive to the time you leave, takes about an hour
  • The average adult has about 10 to 12 pints of blood in his body. Roughly 1 pint is given during a donation
  • All donated blood is tested for HIV, Hepatitis B and C, syphilis and other infectious diseases, before it can be released to hospitals
  • Information you give to the American Red Cross during the donation process is strictly confidential. It may not be released without your permission except as directed by law

Facts about blood and its components

  • Whole blood can be processed into red cells, platelets, plasma, and cryoprecipitate. The total number of units of all of these components transfused in a year is 29 million (2001)
  • It is possible to donate specifically only platelets or plasma. This process is called apheresis
  • Most donated red blood cells must be used within 42 days of collection
  • Donated platelets must be used within 5 days of collection — new donations are constantly needed
  • Healthy bone marrow makes a constant supply of red cells, plasma and platelets. The body will replenish the elements given during a blood donation – some in a matter of hours, and others in a matter of weeks

Facts about donors

  • The #1 reason donors say they give blood is because they “want to help others”
  • Two most common reasons cited by people who don’t give blood are: “Never thought about it” and “I don’t like needles”
  • One donation can help save the lives of up to 3 people
  • If you began donating blood at age 17 and donated every 56 days until you reached 76, you would have donated 48 gallons of blood, potentially helping save over 1,000 lives!
  • Red Cross donors are 50% male, 50% female
  • The American Red Cross accepts blood donations only from voluntary donors
  • Among Red Cross donors in a given year, 18% donate occasionally, 38% are first time donors, and 43% are repeat and loyal donors
  • People with O- type blood are universal donors. Their blood can be given to people of all blood types. Only 7% of people in the U.S. have O- blood type
  • Type O- blood is often used in emergencies before the patient’s blood type is known, and with newborns who need blood.
  • 45% of people in the U.S. have type O (+/-) blood. This percentage is higher among Hispanics — 57%, and among African Americans — 51%
  • People with AB+ type blood are universal donors of plasma, the liquid portion of blood. AB+ plasma is often used in emergencies, for newborns and for patients requiring massive transfusions



Source: American Red Cross

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