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50 Quick Facts

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 eligibility


You must be at least 17 years old, weigh more than 110 pounds, and be in good general health to donate (note: eligibility requirements may vary in some states and blood centers)


A healthy donor may donate red blood cells every 56 days


A healthy donor may donate platelets as few as 3 days apart, but a maximum of 24 times a year

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


Approximately 60% of the U.S. population is eligible to give blood — only 5% do in a given year


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

Facts about the American Red Cross


The American Red Cross blood program started in 1940, under the leadership of Dr. Charles Drew


The American Red Cross supplies approximately 45% of the nation's blood supply


The Red Cross provides blood for patients in nearly 3,000 hospitals across the U.S.


The Red Cross makes blood available to any patient who needs it — patients are not required to find donors to replace the blood they use (a practice common in Europe and some U.S. blood banks) allowing the patient and their family to focus on recovery


80% of the blood donations given to the Red Cross are collected at mobile blood drives set up at community organizations, companies, high schools, colleges, places of worship or military installations. The remaining 20% are collected at fixed Red Cross donor centers


The American Red Cross works with over 50,000 sponsors each year to hold more than 120,000 blood drives, providing convenient locations for people to give blood