Although World Blood Donor Day is June 14, the need for blood donations is almost always at a near-critical level.
According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
Blood donations are commonly publicized but the supply doesn’t match the demand. Giving blood can save a life, but many people don’t take the opportunity to donate.
Organizations such as the American Red Cross and OneBlood find themselves in a shortage of this vital necessity throughout the year.
“I know how important it is to give blood and donate. I still don’t like needles but I have had a family member who needed a blood transfusion to survive. So, I know first-hand how important it is. I wish people could get over the needles and just give. So many people need blood daily,” said Catisha Joseph, a blood donor and Florida A&M graduate.
A blood donation from one person can potentially save up to three lives, according to the Red Cross. Type O blood is the most needed by organizations and hospitals. Type O negative can go to any patient in need of blood. This is the type of blood that hospitals and blood centers turn to first.
The problem is that only about 7 percent of the U.S. population has O negative blood.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is responsible for ensuring the safety of the U.S. blood supply. The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for ensuring the safety of blood donations and protecting the health of blood donors. Basic science epidemiology and clinical practices are handled by the National Institute of Health.
The amount of blood donations needed each year are never fully satisfied. According to the Red Cross, they provide about 40 percent of the nation’s blood and blood components. But supply can’t always meet demand because only about 3 percent of age-eligible people donate blood yearly.
This ultimately means that people involved in accidents or who have ailments often have to wait or go without the supply they need until it becomes available.
“I give blood because I know that some people are waiting right now for help. And I know that many people are unable to give blood. If It were me in the hospital, I would hope that I would have access to blood if I needed a transfusion or anything,” said blood donor Stephon Alvin.
Red blood cells must be used within 42 days, and blood platelets must be used within just 5 days, according to the Red Cross. Donations are constantly required to keep up with the demand.
According to the FDA, blood donors are asked specific and very direct questions about risk factors that could indicate possible infection with a transmissible disease. This “up-front” screening eliminates approximately 90 percent of unsuitable donors.
The FDA also requires blood centers to create and keep lists of unsuitable donors to prevent the use of collections from them. Blood donations are tested for seven different infectious agents, according to the FDA.
The Red Cross says that about 21 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S. Volunteers are needed and are urged to donate blood.