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Fast Facts for National Blood Donor Month

January 17, 2017

Blood Donation

Blood: we take it for granted until we see it or, heaven forbid, lose it.

Millions — including cancer patients, organ recipients, and accident victims – count on blood being at the ready. Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood, according to the American Red Cross. Yet, only 10% of eligible individuals give blood annually. The good news is that the main reason people don’t give blood is they simply “never thought about it.”

Those who do give blood want to help others. They are particularly philanthropic, a trait they share with the types of patients we and our research customers count on, who happily contribute their de-identified biospecimens to help advance research.

Learn More About Human Biospecimens

January is National Blood Donor Month, declared by President Richard Nixon in 1970, to pay tribute to voluntary blood donors and increase donation by others. The acute need for blood was reflected earlier this month in the Red Cross’s emergency call for donations.

In an effort to do our part in thanking philanthropic blood donors and to raise awareness for more donations, we share these Red Cross facts on why donating blood is so important and effective.

  • Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells and 7,000 units of platelets are needed every day in the U.S.
  • Type O is the blood type most often requested by hospitals. Type O negative blood (red cells) can be transfused to patients of all blood types. It’s always in great demand and often in short supply. Only 7% of people in the U.S. have type O negative blood.
  • AB positive blood donors are universal donors of plasma. Only 3% of people in the U.S. have AB positive blood.
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.
  • Approximately 6.8 million individuals donate blood in the U.S. annually. Although an estimated 38% of the population is eligible, less than 10% actually donate.
  • Blood donation is a simple four-step process: registration, medical history and mini-physical, donation, and refreshments.
  • Donating blood is a safe process. A sterile needle is used only once for each donor and then discarded.
  • 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 and 15 minutes.
  • A single donation can potentially help more than one patient.
  • Most donated red blood cells must be used within 42 days of collection.

To find out more about donating blood, about the American Red Cross, or to find a donation center or blood drive, please visit  Better yet, download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App and find nearby Red Cross blood drives, schedule appointments, earn rewards, follow your blood as it makes it way to the hospital, join a lifesaving team, and track the team’s impact on a national leaderboard.

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