All About Blood

Saving Lives Every Day: The Importance of Regular Blood Donations

While approximately 37% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, only 3% of those who could give blood actually do. This poses a massive challenge because someone needs blood or platelets every two seconds, which adds up to about 29,000 units of blood needed each day in the U.S. Unfortunately, the current blood supply isn’t meeting the ongoing demand.

Without an increase in regular blood donations, the blood shortage will continue. Today, we’ll discuss the importance of blood donors and how you can make a difference by making a donation that saves lives.

The Lifesaving Impact of Blood Donations

While donating blood may not seem like a big deal, it has lifesaving impacts. In many cases of emergency trauma, people experience severe blood loss. Blood donations ensure a readily available supply to replace lost blood and maintain the necessary oxygen and nutrient supply to vital organs. Red blood cells are especially important as they help carry oxygen to tissues.

For planned surgeries, blood transfusions help ensure patient safety by helping to maintain the patient’s hemoglobin levels and blood volume. Cancer patients can experience decreased blood cell counts due to chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Blood transfusions help improve their overall health, maintain their ability to fight off infections, and prevent bleeding complications.

Additionally, people with bone marrow disorders, including leukemia and lymphoma, often require blood transfusions because their condition reduces their ability to produce healthy blood cells. Transfusions give their bodies the support they need while other health issues are addressed.

Sometimes, even routine medical procedures can present unexpected challenges. For example, complications after childbirth, such as postpartum hemorrhages and preeclampsia, can call for blood transfusions to stabilize mothers’ health. Babies may also need exchange transfusions to treat jaundice.

These are just a few conditions and instances that call for blood transfusions. Without a constant supply of blood donations, these patients won’t get the care they need and could suffer devastating consequences.

Blood Donations Make a Difference

Kay Williams, a current donor at The Blood Connection, had a cesarean section when she was 20. During the procedure, her heart stopped. She received four pints of blood as the medical staff worked to save her life. Reflecting on the experience, Kay shared, “If people hadn’t donated, I wouldn’t be here today.” Experiencing firsthand the impact donors have on the lives of people in their community inspired her to become a regular donor.

Another lifesaving story comes from Eliza, who was diagnosed with leukemia at age three and received 800 consecutive days of chemotherapy. Her treatment required countless blood and platelet transfusions over that time. We’re thrilled to report that, thanks to regular donors, Eliza is now in remission! 

Kay and Eliza are two of the many lives that have been touched by blood donors. Because of consistent donations, their medical providers had the necessary resources to save their lives.

The Constant Demand for Blood

There’s always a need for blood donations, but if the blood shortage continues, the number of people who can’t get the care they need will grow. 

For medical emergencies, having an adequate blood supply on hand allows caregivers to provide immediate treatment and stabilize patients in critical conditions. A steady blood supply also gives medical providers the resources they need to maintain their patients’ hemoglobin levels during and after surgery.

Cancer patients rely on blood transfusions throughout their treatments to prevent anemia, weakened immune systems, and bleeding risks. Similarly, people suffering from chronic illnesses need regular blood transfusions to manage their symptoms and prevent complications.

Ultimately, the demand for blood is unpredictable. It can vary with the seasons, accidents, natural disasters, and global health crises. These factors can cause a sudden influx of patients that require medical attention. They can also disrupt the blood donation process, making it even more difficult to maintain a steady supply.

The Vital Role of Regular Donors

Blood has various components, including red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma, each with specific functions. And even with the incredible advances in medical technology, recreating blood’s complex structure and functionality in a lab is a scientific challenge that requires stringent safety assessments to prevent adverse patient reactions. Artificially manufactured blood may sound like a simple solution, but it can’t scale quickly to meet sudden surges in demand. So, while we may be suffering from blood shortages, the solution isn’t simply making more blood — it’s finding more donors like you!

Blood donors are everyday heroes. They provide the critical substance needed to treat trauma victims, surgery patients, cancer patients, and people with blood disorders. Beyond planned procedures, blood donors ensure that blood is available during urgent situations. They also provide peace of mind to those enduring ongoing treatments. These patients can rest easy knowing the blood they need to survive — and thrive — is readily available.

Blood donations of all types are needed to meet different patient needs. Donors with diverse blood types ensure medical facilities have comprehensive inventories to cater to their patients’ needs.

Give Blood. Save Lives.

Believe it or not, becoming a regular donor is easy! If you’re eligible to donate, you can save up to three lives with a single donation. 

Before you donate, it’s important to prepare your body. Be sure to drink plenty of water and eat a healthy meal before donating to help the process run smoothly. When you’re ready to donate, just find the donation center that’s closest to you. Appointments are always welcomed but not necessary. You can schedule your appointment online using our website. Simply provide your zip code and donation center preferences, and we will find a center near you. We also recommend filling out TBC Express, our online questionnaire. This must be completed the day of your donation — and not before. After you’ve filled out the questionnaire, make sure you take a screenshot of the QR code that you receive after completing your questions. You will also need this code during the screening portion of your donation. By completing this process before you come in to donate, you can significantly improve your overall donation time.

When you arrive at the donation center, check in with your photo ID and donor ID card. You will then complete a mini-physical to confirm you’re eligible to donate. Once you’re in the screening room, you can show the QR code from your TBC Express Questionnaire.

Donor eligibility is determined by several factors. If you were born in or traveled to certain countries during specific times, this may result in a deferral. You may also be deferred if you’ve had a blood transfusion, had a transplant, came in contact with someone else’s blood, or had an accidental needle stick in the past four months. See our important donor information for a complete list of deferral circumstances. If you have AIDS or have ever had a positive HIV test, you will not be eligible to donate.

All donors must be in good health, at least 16 years old, and weigh at least 110 pounds to complete a whole blood donation. If you’re 16 and donating in SC or GA, you do need parental consent first. If you’re donating in NC, you’ll need to have a parental consent form if you are 16 or 17 years old.

After you’ve completed these steps, you can sit back, relax, and save some lives. Donations can take as little as 15 minutes, but we recommend allowing an hour for the entire donation process. Once you finish your donation, you can schedule your next one. How soon? You can donate whole blood every 56 days, so our team members will help you plan accordingly. 

Becoming a regular donor has a lasting impact on the lives of others. From emergency surgeries to ongoing treatments, countless patients rely on the generosity of people just like you to maintain their health and well-being. And if we aren’t constantly working to increase the percentage of eligible donors that donate, we will continue to experience blood shortages. No person should ever have to hear there’s not enough blood supply to get the care they need.

Ready to become a regular donor? Visit The Blood Connection website to schedule your appointment today. We’d love to get you started on your lifesaving journey.