June 14th is World Blood Donor Day. It is a World Health Organization campaign to promote the need and importance of blood donation across the world. Access to safe blood around the world is essential for communities to have, especially considering that in United States alone, 45 million Americans receive a blood transfusion a year, and 1 in 7 people who go to a hospital will need blood. It’s not as easy to collect safe blood either, not everyone is able to donate blood. In the United States about 37 percent of our population is eligible to donate, but unfortunately only 10 percent actually do. Since both percentages are quite low, it is very important that people who are able to--do!
In every country, community, and hospital the need for safe blood is important. It is used in the case of traumatic accidents, in childbirth when necessary, for patients with certain blood disorders, children with anemia, and patients who are undergoing specific medical procedures. The donation of blood can literally save peoples lives. And it doesn’t take much, just a pint of donated blood that will replenish itself in your body after 4 to 6 weeks. And if you’ve ever had your blood drawn, you know it doesn’t really hurt either!
Because blood donation is heavily screened there are a lot of requirements to meet before you are able to donate. To give blood, depending on the state you must be at least 17 years old. You must weigh at least 110 lbs, have not donated blood in 8 weeks, and be in good health and feeling well. Which means no flu or colds, as well as infections, or more serious conditions such as hepatitis or HIV. If you have traveled outside the country in 3 years, be prepared to answer questions about your travels, especially if you have been to places where malaria is present. Also, most states will require you to wait 12 months before donating after you get a tattoo.
So how can you help? If you are eligible to donate blood, donate! Find out your blood type and just give that pint. And commit to donating regularly. Find a local blood drive through the Red Cross or a center. Blood donation is needed all year long to maintain supplies. If you are ineligible give your time! Volunteer at blood drives, urge your family and friends to donate, and tell people why it is so important to give blood. Advocate for the health of donors and the need for safe blood. Or if you are able to, provide resources and space for a blood drive.
We believe it’s important to be active members of our communities and the world. Donating blood could certainly save the life of people who are in scary situations all across the globe. We highly encourage you to participate in the World Blood Donor Day celebration and donate blood today. You never know who you might be helping.