Fewer than 1 in 10 gives blood

Published 9:43 pm Monday, January 5, 2009

When you are out shopping, walking in your neighborhood, or sitting in a theater before the film begins look around and it’s a good bet you’ll see some blood donors.

While they may not wear capes and tights, they are quiet superheroes who have saved the lives of people in our communities. They are the people you can count on if your friends, family members or coworkers ever need blood. January is Blood Donor Awareness Month, and we’d like to thank all those who gave in 2008 and to extend an invitation to them and others to do the same in 2009.

They are a select bunch who could certainly use some help. Currently, fewer than 1 in 10 Americans regularly gives blood, so this small group is challenged to keep up with the need. The organization America’s Blood Centers calculates that 38,000 units of blood are needed every day in the U.S. – that’s 1,583.3 units per hour, 26.3 units per minute, of every day. That need never sleeps and it never takes a holiday. And as America’s population continues to age, that need will be climbing.

There is no substitute for human blood. The only way we can assure that it will be on the hospital’s shelves when it is needed is for donors to step forward. That need is particularly strong during January; supplies are typically low coming out of the holidays just as patients return to hospitals. It’s also the season when severe weather in parts of the country and colds and flu prevents many regular donors from giving.

Our donors come in all shapes, sizes and ages. Many high school students now mark a 16th birthday by getting written permission from their parents and donating blood when the bloodmobile stops at their school. College students find that giving blood is one way they can give back to their community, even during tight economic times. And we have many senior citizens who have a long history of donating and continue to give.

We often ask our first-time donors why they decided to give blood. The most common answer is, “Somebody asked me.” As we begin Blood Donor Awareness Month, LifeSouth is encouraging you to please give. That decision could make a lifesaving difference for someone in need in our community.

– from staff reports