Every 2 seconds someone in the United States needs a life-saving blood transfusion, according to the American Red Cross.
But for many Americans, the idea of giving blood doesn’t turn into action until there is a local blood shortage, a tragic event like the recent mass shooting in Orlando or a national emergency like Sept. 11 or Hurricane Katrina.
“Although we have many external differences, the same vital blood pumps through all our veins,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, the World Health Organization’s Director-General. “Voluntary, unpaid blood donation is the act of giving life – the greatest gift any person can give or receive.”
Humans have approximately 10 pints of blood pumping through their veins, and a donation collects just one pint, the American Red Cross says. That means a donor can healthily give every 56 days. And health professionals say every bit is needed.
Twenty-one million blood products are transfused each year, with one donation possibly saving more than one person. But only 7% of humans have the universal blood type, O-negative.
“A single blood donation can save up to three lives,” said Grace Adeniji-ilesanmi, family nurse practitioner at Unum. “Donating blood only takes about 10 minutes and it is one of the most precious gifts you can give to another person – the gift of life.”
If you have the opportunity to take part in one of more than 400 blood drives that take place across the country each day, here are three ways for you to come prepared:
- Bring your blood donor card, driver’s license and two other forms of ID
- Have a light meal and stay hydrated
- Bring a list of any medications you are currently taking
Find a local blood drive near you simply by entering your Zip Code on the American Red Cross website.