You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Donate Blood or Platelets to Help Save Lives in Emergency Rooms

Leroy Straight averages 20-24 visits per year to the Donor Center to give platelets.

May is Trauma Awareness Month and the American Red Cross urges eligible donors to give blood or platelets to help ensure lifesaving blood products are available for trauma patients and others with serious medical needs.

WHEN SECONDS MATTER Each year, trauma accounts for approximately 41 million emergency department visits and 2.3 million hospital admissions in the U.S., according to the National Trauma Institute. A single car accident victim can need as many as 100 units of blood. When seconds matter, having a readily available blood supply is critical to trauma patient care.

Donated blood helped save Diana Heredia’s life following a car accident. Suffering from four broken ribs, a lacerated liver and a punctured lung, Heredia received about five units of blood.

“I was in pretty bad shape – hospitalized for about 28 days,” said Heredia. “Ever since I've tried to recruit blood donors, have blood drives and give blood as much as possible.”

When there is not time to determine a patient’s blood type, such as in trauma situations, type O negative blood and type AB plasma are what emergency personnel reach for because they can be given to patients with any blood type. Less than 7 percent of the population has type O negative blood, and only about 4 percent of the population has type AB blood. Donors with these blood types are an important part of the trauma team and encouraged to donate as often as they are eligible.

PROVIDE A LIFESAVING GIFT Each day, the Red Cross needs to collect approximately 14,000 blood and platelet donations for patients at about 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide.

To make an appointment to donate blood or platelets, download the Blood Donor App, visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients.

Whole blood can be safely donated every 56 days. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in most states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Platelet donors can roll up a sleeve every seven days, up to 24 times year. Platelets must be transfused within five days of donation. It’s important that eligible platelet donors give as often as possible to help ensure this potentially lifesaving blood product is available for patients whenever and wherever needed.

Blood donors can now save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, prior to arriving at the blood drive. To get started and learn more, visit and follow the instructions on the site.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

Ready To Donate

Find a drive and schedule a blood donation appointment today.

Sign Up for News