Facts and Statistics | Blood Banks | Who can give | Before you give | After you give | Terms | Links to more information

Facts and Statistics

  • 4.5 million Americans will a need blood transfusion each year.
  • 37 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood - less than 9 percent of those eligible donate annually.
    New York City has fewer donors with only 2 percent donating.
    The city experiences regular shortages in the summer and winter.
  • In the summer of 2012 the American Red Cross' blood supply hit a 15-year low.
    During a blood shortage, deliveries of blood are cut back to local hospitals; a hospital may ask for 100 pints of blood and only receive 75 pints, causing postponements of non-essencial surgeries.
    See American Red Cross: Blood Supply Lowest In 15 Years (What You Can Do)
  • The actual blood donation typically takes less than 10-12 minutes plus 10-15 minutes of prep. The entire process, from the time you arrive to the time you leave, takes about an hour and 15 min.
    Donors can give either whole blood or specific blood components only. The process of donating specific blood components - red cells, plasma or platelets - is called apheresis.
    It takes 50 minutes to extract double red cells.
    If you donate whole blood it separated into two or three of these components later.
    See In the Time It Takes to Give Blood - YouTube
  • Most donated red blood cells must be used within 42 days of collection.
  • The average adult has about 10 pints of blood in his body. Roughly 1 pint is given during a donation.
    When you donate red cells the red cells are extracted and other components returned to you.
  • After donating blood, you replace the fluid in hours and the red blood cells within four weeks. It takes eight weeks to restore the iron lost after donating.
    An article in Omega Cycling by Dr P A Lambeti (MBBcH), said, in part:
    "Maximal performance was decreased for at least one week and that submaximal performance was unaffected by blood donation." If you are a competitive cyclist, do not donate blood within 7 - 10 days of a competitive race.
  • All donated blood is tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis and other infectious diseases before it can be released to hospitals.
% Who can receive
this type
O+ 37% O+, A+, B+, AB+
O- 6% All blood types
A+ 34% A+, AB+
A- 6% A+, A-, AB+, AB-
B+ 10% B+, AB+
B- 2% B+, B-, AB+, AB-
AB+ 4% AB+
AB- 1% AB+, AB-
Blood Types at FactMonster

  • You will get a card with your blood type after you donate.
  • Four main red blood cell types: A, B, AB and O. Each can be positive or negative for the Rh factor. AB is the universal recipient; O negative is the universal donor of red blood cells.
Source: America's Blood Centers, American Red Cross

Blood Banks

Blood banks are nonprofit organizations who sell the blood to regional suppliers or hospitals. There are over 2,000 independent centers in the United States. They are licensed by the F.D.A.

There are multiple organizations who run blood drives in central New Jersey. I didn't realize this and got on the lists for 3 and now get calls every three weeks about drives.
In North-Central New Jersey there are:

Who can give guidelines:

See Who Can Give Blood at nybloodcenter.org for guidelines.
and Blood Donor Eligibility: Blood Pressure, Pregnancy, Disease & More | American Red Cross

Some rules:
  Healthy, at least 17 years old, and at least 110 pounds 
  Donors age 76 and older can continue to donate blood if they meet all donor criteria 
   and present a physician's letter (for The NY Blood Center) allowing them to donate.
   There is no upper age limit according the Red Cross

  Blood pressure less than 180/100 and over 90/50
  56 days since last donation (112 days if you donated double red cells)
  12 months after travel to a country with a risk of malaria e.g. Honduras
     See Countries with a risk of Malaria at nybloodcenter.org (pdf)
  3 days after symptoms of a cold, sore throat, respiratory infection, flu are over
  Not while taking antibiotics
  Tattoos - If applied in NJ, no wait: If elsewhere, 12 months after application
  Piercings - 12 months after procedure unless done under sterile conditions.
  12 months after sex with a prostitute
  Cancer - If you had leukemia or lymphoma, including Hodgkin's Disease
     and other cancers of the blood, you are not eligible to donate.
     Other types of cancer are acceptable if the cancer has been treated successfully
     and it has been more than 12 months since treatment was completed
     and there has been no cancer recurrence in this time.
     Lower risk in-situ cancers including squamous or basal cell cancers of the skin that
     have been completely removed do not require a 12 month waiting period.
     Rules for cancer differ so check with your blood bank.
  Not anemic - your hematocrit value must be at least 38% 
     (or your hemoglobin level must be 12.5 or higher).
     They will test it before you give. 
     5% of blood donors are temporarily deferred because their hemocrit.
  You can give if you are on cholesterol medication and blood thinners.

Before you give:

  • No aspirin for 72 hours (A baby aspirin [81 mg] is OK)
  • Eating a full low-fat meal and drinking plenty of fluids (16 oz.) within four hours before donating will help you feel strong during after donating.
    Some people, including myself, have gotten light headed and had to stop the process because we skipped a meal earlier.
  • If you are donating platelets or the center is extracting them you should not take anti-inflammatory medications (such as Ibuprofen) for 48 hours. (Note: The New York Blood Center does not restrict ibuprofen.)

After you give

  • Increase fluids for 2 days - 4 eight ounce glasses of water
  • No pushing or picking up heavy objects for at least 4 or 5 hours after giving blood
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages until after having a meal and a non-alcoholic beverage.
  • Keep the bandage on and dry for 6 hours
  • Wait 2 hours before smoking
  • Make sure to eat foods that are high in iron in the days before and after donating blood. The form of iron in meat, poultry, and fish is the best absorbed. If you're a vegetarian, prunes, prune juice, and blackstrap molasses are all good sources of iron.
  • If you feel faint sit down and put your head between you knees. Intermittent coughing will help.
  • In a 2001 article published in the journal "The Physician and Sports Medicine," Marvin Adner, M.D., said that blood donation shouldn't be a concern for active people as long as they aren't iron-deficient.
    However, in a separate article in "Omega Cycling," Dr. P.A. Lambeti reported the results of a study showing maximal performance was decreased for at least one week in cyclists and recommended competitive cyclists not donate within seven to 10 days of a race.
    Source: LiveStrong.com

- Apheresis - Extraction of blood components (red cells, platelets, ...) while you donate.
- Hemoglobin - The molecule in the red blood cell that carries oxygen.
- Hematocrit (Ht or HCT) - The percentage of red blood cells in blood.
- Phlebotomy - donating blood
- Platelets - Colorless cells whose main function is to control bleeding. Recent research has shown that platelets help fight infections by releasing proteins that kill invading bacteria and some other microorganisms.
- Plasma - Plasma is 92 percent water, 7 percent protein and 1 percent minerals. Plasma is used to treat clotting disorders, burn victims and shock. When frozen, plasma lasts one year.
- Red Cells - Red cells transport oxygen to body cells and remove carbon dioxide. Red cells contain iron in the hemoglobin. Red cells can be kept for 35-42 days.
- Universal donor - A person who has blood type O negative and is therefore able to serve as a donor to a person of any other blood group in the ABO system.
- White Cells - White blood cells (leukocytes) are one of the body's defenses against disease. Some white cells travel throughout the body and destroy bacteria, some produce antibodies against bacteria and viruses, and others help fight malignant diseases.
- Whole blood contains red cells (~45% of volume), white cells, and platelets suspended in plasma (~55% of volume).

See Blood Donation Glossary

56 Facts About Blood : America's Blood Centers
Blood Facts and Statistics | American Red Cross
  Eligibility Criteria at American Red Cross
In the Time It Takes to Give Blood - YouTube
List of blood donation agencies in the United States - Wikipedia
Blood Assurance: Blood Donation FAQ
Blood donation FAQs at DeAnza College
Blood Types at FactMonster
Blood donation: What effect will it have on my training? at RunnersWorld.co.uk Forum
Does Donating Plasma Affect My Work Out?
The Business of Blood (Red Cross Problems) - Slate, 2006
Video Stories & Pleas for donations:
Heather's story
Lifesaving Blood Donations - I never wanted your help
In the Time It Takes to Give Blood

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last updated 16 Nov 2014