By Katelyn Chu
Blood donations to the Red Cross are extremely vital and impactful, working to supply life-saving resources to 40 percent of hospital patients across the U.S. including those with cancer, pregnancy complications, and accident and trauma victims. In fact, the Red Cross must collect approximately 13,000 blood donations every day to keep up with demand, and the need for lifesaving blood is fulfilled through the help of Red Cross employees, volunteers, and donors.
At a recent Red Cross blood drive in Fairfax, Virginia, blood donors shared more about why they choose to keep donating. Whether it’s convenience, the ability to save a life, or a means of habit that drove them into the donation center, every pint donated has the potential to save up to three lives.
“I work here at the community center [that is hosting the blood drive], so I like to help their social action efforts, and I do it because it’s easy,” blood donor Shari B. said. “ I ‘ve been donating for years and years, and I know the blood supply is low, so I can help.”
Similarly, donating blood can be a way of habit for some people. The Red Cross holds, on average, over 500 blood drives a day – adding up to more than 4.6 million units of blood collected each year.
“I’ve donated blood since the 90’s. It’s my way of giving back, and I will continue to donate,” blood donor Erica G. said. “I want to keep donating because everyone is grateful and appreciative of the donations.”
Furthermore, the convenience of accessing blood drives is an important factor in driving in some donors. The Red Cross Blood Donor App offers online tools to navigate different blood drive services, with maps to pinpoint drives with times and locations that work for individuals.
The process of donating whole blood typically takes an hour, from walking in to leaving. To start, donors must register with information, including their name, address, phone number, and donor identification number, driver’s license, or other ID. After a quick, confidential health interview, each donors vital signs are taken. The actual drawing of blood only takes about eight to 10 minutes; and after, donors can enjoy refreshments.
“I’ve been giving for years, and I live very close [to the donation center so it’s] convenient,” blood donor Peter M. said. ”Donating blood is an easy way to help people in need.”
Additionally, while all blood types are needed, specific blood types may be a better treatment for certain illnesses - like sickle cell disease, when type of O blood can be a more ideal treatment. However, while some blood types are considered more unique, all blood types play an incredibly instrumental role in saving lives.
“I came to donate because I have AB blood, so I know it’s more rare, and people are going to need blood,” blood donor Nancy W. said. “The American Red Cross didn’t have a lot of diet restrictions, so that made it easier. It doesn’t take a lot of time, so if my blood can help someone, [I want to donate].”