Importance of donating blood

According to the Brookhaven National Laboratory, about 4.5 million Americans would die each year without blood donors. Medical facilities all over the country count on a robust supply of donor blood to help save the lives of trauma victims and people who need transfusions or surgeries. And while about 38% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, only about 10% actually do it. Here are some more statistics that show how crucial it is to donate blood:

  • Someone in America needs a blood transfusion every 3 seconds.
  • One pint of donated blood can save as many as 3 lives.
  • About 32,000 pints of blood are used every day in the U.S.
  • There is no substitute for human blood; there is currently no way to synthesize blood or its components.
  • Of the four blood types (A, B, AB, and O), AB blood types are universal recipients while O blood types are universal donors.This is why blood banks frequently run short on O-type blood.
  • Blood can be separated into various life-saving components like plasma and platelets.
  • Some patients, like those who have been in car accidents or who have suffered other traumatic injuries, can need as many as 50 pints of blood or more to survive.
  • Donor blood is used in the treatment of a wide variety of medical conditions in people of all ages, including leukemia, anemia, premature birth, people having surgery and more. The life you save could be that of a child, a premature baby, or even someone you know and care about!

If you have donated blood before, we applaud you for your courage and selflessness. The winter weather and seasonal illnesses make it difficult for our nation's blood banks to maintain an adequate supply of the most-used blood types at this time of year. You can safely donate blood every 56 days, so if you haven't made a donation in a few months, we encourage you to do so now.

And if you've never donated blood before, now is the perfect time to start. The entire process only takes about 45 minutes from start to finish, and you get free snacks afterwards! Those who are squeamish about needles should know that it only takes a second of pain to potentially save lives, so don't be nervous. Your minor sacrifice can mean the difference between life and death to someone who is injured or who is living with a life-threatening disease. Keep an eye out for blood drives in your area or do some online searches to find upcoming drives. To find out more about blood donation and whether or not you're eligible, you can call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit RedCrossBlood.org. Millions of people around the country are waiting to receive the gift of life; will you be the one to give that gift?