Written by Kristin Anchante, Project Manager
January is National Blood Donor Month, and according to The Red Cross, "an estimated 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood at any given time, [but] less than 10 percent actually do."(1) This statistic was pre-pandemic; since March 2020, blood shortages have been rampant and there is a desperate need for eligible donors.
There are several organizations where you can donate blood, but the Red Cross provides about 40 percent of blood to those in need in the United States.1I got involved with this organization earlier last year after attending a presentation about their services. Since March, I've been able to donate four times, and each donation has been used at a hospital in the tri-state area. It's a wonderful feeling to know you've helped save someone's life.
You can donate whole blood every 56 days or about six times a year. Basic requirements include(2):
Being in good general health
Being 16-17 years of age (varies by state)
Weighing at least 110 pounds
In addition, each time you donate, you'll have to answer a questionnaire about your health, lifestyle, medications, and recent travel. Depending on your answers, you may be ineligible to donate at that particular time.
The process usually takes about 30-60 minutes depending on wait-time. First, you'll sign in and go over the eligibility info, then you'll have a private health screening, after you'll produce a pint of blood to be donated to someone in need, and finally, you'll get to enjoy a snack of juice and crackers or cookies. It's super easy, quick, and pretty painless -I've even been able to donate on my lunch break a couple of times! And for me, the worst pain comes from the finger prick during the screening process.
Everyone loves a good fun fact:
The Red Cross needs to collect more than 41,000 donations every day to keep the blood supply ready and available to meet the needs of hospitals, clinics, and cancer centers across the country.(2)
Whole blood donations are the most common, but you can also donate power red (just red blood cells), platelets, or plasma. Each of those have different requirements.(2)
4.5 million Americans receive blood transfusions each year.(3)
Car accident and trauma victims require an average of 3 pints of blood.(2)
The Red Cross has an app that holds your blood donor info, keeps track of your donations, allows you to schedule or change appointments, and tells you everything you want to know about the blood donation process.
You can get involved with The Red Cross by visitingredcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767). If you're interested in the organization and mission, but ineligible to donate blood, there are many additional ways to get involved, including helping with fire or flood relief, donating money or resources, and doing CPR training and demos. Whether you're looking to make a donation of blood, time, or money, it will be welcome and appreciated.
(2) Red Cross Blood Donor App