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4.5 Million Americans Need Blood Transfusions – Help Save Lives

4.5 Million Americans Need Blood Transfusions – Help Save Lives

What do Donna Summer, Robin Gibb, Vidal Sassoon and Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys all have in common? Each of them died this spring of a condition that is often treated with blood transfusions.

Kidney and liver failure, cancer, trauma, surgery, sickle cell disease and hemophilia can all necessitate blood transfusions. A total of 4.5 million Americans need blood transfusions every year, often more than once.

That’s a lot of blood.

Right now, it comes from not a lot of people. Only 37% of Americans are eligible to donate blood (disqualifications include exposure to bloodborne diseases and use of certain medications). Only 10% of eligible donors actually donate — that’s about 3% of the U.S. population. Not all donations pass the rigorous tests for disease and other factors that are conducted before blood is transfused into a patient.

Unsurprisingly, blood shortages are common. They are most likely during the fast-approaching summer holiday and during winter holidays.

America’s Blood Centers promise that donors “cannot get AIDS or any other infectious disease by donating blood,” and estimate that the entire process of donating, from medical history to sugary snacks, takes about an hour.

17% of people who have never donated blood say their main reason is that they never thought about it.

Think about it. You can save a life — actually, your single donation can save three lives. And the day may come when you are the one who needs the blood.

That is where my grandfather finds himself. After donating often as a young man, he now has a blood cancer that requires regular transfusions. I donate to help him and everyone else whose lives depend on it, and to bank some karma points against the day when I or another loved one is on the other end of the needle.

For information about how to donate, contact your local hospital, America’s Blood Centers at 1-888-US-BLOOD, or the Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS, or visit http://www.redcrossblood.org/.

Related Stories:

Giving Blood In Washington DC On September 12, 2001

The Time to Donate Life is Now

Start A Resolution Revolution This New Year

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Photo credit: Thinkstock Photos

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14 comments

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8:50PM PDT on Jun 21, 2012

I've donated over a gallon in the past, but now I'm older than they will accept donations from.

1:08AM PDT on Jun 10, 2012

Yeah, it really does matter. And it's not a big deal to do this a few times a year.

Please help. One day your life might be saves because a stranger gave their blood to you.

12:31AM PDT on Jun 10, 2012

I would love to donate blood but being a petite woman weighing only at 93 lbs, I can't donate blood. I wish I could save someone's life with my blood but not meeting the weight requirements is not going to do it. One time I had really bad pneumonia and I needed blood transfusion. It really saved my life because I was so weak and having pneumonia drained the heck out of me.

12:30AM PDT on Jun 10, 2012

I used to donate blood regularly but can't these days because of anemia. I do try to help people get to the blood donor clinic if they need a ride - its the least I can do. I've known several people get injured on the job who needed blood - someone saved their lives by donating. Cheers to all the donors out there! Friends and family thank you.

5:05PM PDT on Jun 9, 2012

Give life. Donate blood.

3:35PM PDT on Jun 9, 2012

Karin, I too am a vegan and as such we have extended our circle of compassion to include all species. I think it would be highly hypocritical of us to shrink that circle and exclude members of our own species due to philosophical differences; we risk appearing arrogant and elitist. Disease incurred from eating meat is only one reason for blood and organ donations..There are other diseases which are not due to animal cosumption. There are poor lifestyle choices such as smoking, excessive drinking and participating in unprotected sex. There are genetic abnormalities and birth defects. but probably the number one reason--accidents. If our aim is a more caring and just world, then donating blood, marrow and organs are but a few more very special ways where we can lead by example in achieving our goals.

"Whenever you hae truth it must be given with love, or the message and the messenger will be rejected."~Mahatma Gandhi

3:10PM PDT on Jun 9, 2012

I've donated blood many times over the years and the feeling of possibly helping someone survive is like no other.

1:13PM PDT on Jun 9, 2012

I have the same ethical issue with donating blood as I do with donating organs: Will the blood/organs be used to keep a meat-eater alive to kill more animals? More than likely the disease that necessitates a transfusion/transplant is a result of a meat diet and crappy lifestyle. I would gladly donate my blood and organs to a vegan, but they are not likely to need it.

1:02PM PDT on Jun 9, 2012

Debra V, you are quite right there comes a time to die but apparently Ms. Hoffman's grandfather's time has not yet arrived. We know precious little about this man: one thing we do know is that as a younger man he showed compassion for people in need by giving of his time and the essence of his own life--his blood. I need not remind you that we are all "terminal" and each one of us will succumb to death sooner or later, however I am not ready to ask this man to "move on" just because he has cancer. He survives because of the kindness and genorosity of others, traits that he also passed on to his grand-daughter. I thank Ms. Hoffman for encouraging us to be better people; through this simple act of love, our blood gives life and hope to those in short supply of both.

9:15AM PDT on Jun 9, 2012

I'm sorry to say, but sometimes it's time to die! There are too many people on this planet and we need to really assess our problem with death. If you have something "curable", cure away, but if you are terminal, then stop wasting resources and face the next step in our journey.

That said, the business of all of these "charities" for various diseases that are "running for the cure", etc., also gag me....how about they run for the cause? How do you cure something before you find the cause? Has anyone realized that these organizations are make work projects with a few on top getting rich off disease?

So, let's rethink our approach and attitude toward death and accept it.

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