Blood donation is a voluntary procedure that can help save lives. Donors can opt to give blood at local blood drives sponsored by the American Red Cross or other well-known organizations. Each blood donation can help more than one person. Blood is essential and cannot be manufactured outside the body, so it must be constantly replenished by generous donors. 

Whole Blood Donation

There are several types of blood donation. Each type helps meet different medical needs. Whole blood donation is the most common type of blood donation. During this donation, you donate about a pint (about half a liter) of whole blood, which is generally not a large enough amount of blood loss to cause any side effects.

Donating blood also has health benefits for the donors, such as balancing iron levels and reducing the risk of heart problems. In a healthy person, the blood donated is replaced by the body within 24 hours

The Need is Great

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. Unfortunately, the supply of blood products is often stressed, putting patients at risk and forcing clinicians to make difficult treatment decisions. 

A constant supply of donor blood is essential to help patients survive surgeries, cancer treatment, chronic illnesses, and traumatic injuries. This lifesaving care starts with one person making a donation. 

Donated whole blood has a 6-week shelf life under optimum refrigerated storage conditions. Therefore, the supply must be in a constant state of replenishment. Blood donations must also be matched to the recipients’ blood type to ensure that no deadly reaction occurs. Some types are more common than others, which means that the supply varies for each type. 

Some fast facts about the blood donation in the US:

  • Approximately 29,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S.
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 units of blood!
  • Nearly 16 million blood components (which include red blood cells, plasma, and platelets) are transfused to patients every year in the U.S. 

Are you ready to give? Your blood donation can help patients in your local community, with families just like yours. Consider scheduling a donation time today. 

Karen Stockdale, RN, has more than 20 years experience in healthcare. She is also a medical and technical writer and editor.