Surely, there are so many people in this country giving blood every day, why am I always nagging YOU?
Let’s see ….
There are approximately 201 million Americans between the ages of 16 and 65.
Of those 201 million Americans, about 60% are eligible to donate whole blood – 80,400,000.
Unfortunately, only about 5% actually DO give blood – 10,050,000.
Each donor may only give a pint once every 56 days – 10,050,000 divided by 56 = 179,464 potentially giving blood every day.
About 38,000 pints are needed every day in this country (never mind, again, the need of our sons and daughters deployed around the world)
So, what’s the problem, right?
Well, first of all, not every one of those 10,050,000 donors are going in every 56 days like clockwork. Good, dependable donors actually roll up their sleeves about every 2.5 months, on average. Assuming that all 10,050,000 are good, dependable donors, now you’ve got 134,000 American adults going to the blood bank every day.
About 20% will be deferred, due to low iron, illness, blood pressure issues, low body weight, recent tattoos / piercings, or certain international travel. Now we’ve got 107,200 donors a day. About 2% of the blood collected on a given day will not make it through the safety testing within the next 18 hours. Now we have 105,056 pints.
Not so fast. Let’s talk blood compatibility.
If you need blood, you need blood that matches your own type. If you are AB- , for instance, only about 1% of the US population has your blood type. Assuming 1% of the donors actually going into the blood bank everyday are AB-, there’s only 1,050 pints of your blood type coming into the system daily.
A liver transplant patient, on average, will need six – 10 units of red blood cells, 20 units of plasma and 10 units of platelets (or one – two units of apheresis platelets).
A kidney transplant patient, on average, will need one – two units of red blood cells.
A heart transplant patient, on average, will need four – six units of red blood cells.
An adult open-heart surgery patient, on average, will need two – six units of red blood cells, two – four units of plasma and one – 10 units of platelets (or one – two units of apheresis platelets).
A newborn open-heart surgery, on average, will need one – four units of red blood cells, one – two units of plasma, and one – four units of platelets.
Prostate cancer surgery may require two – four units of red blood cells.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm may require four – six units of red blood cells.
Bone marrow transplant, on average, requires one – two units of red blood cells every other day for two – four weeks and six – eight units of platelets daily (or one – two units of apheresis platelets) for four – six weeks.
A leukemia patient may need two – six units of red blood cells and six – eight units of platelets (or one – two units of apheresis platelets) daily for two – four weeks.
Patients with sickle cell disease, on average, need 10-15 units of red blood cells to treat severe complications.
A premature newborn may need one – four units of red blood cells while in Intensive Care.
Will there be blood if you need it?
There was, when I was 17 and needed 6 pints after tearing an artery in my leg. There was not, last summer when a friend’s father with leukemia needed 4 pints a day. The leukemia did not kill him, he died of heart failure when the blood bank could not deliver what he needed.
I went on to college, marriage, children and the opportunity to advocate for important causes in my community, because the blood was there.
And for KC’s dad, it was not.
Approximately 2,412,000 American adults eligible to donate blood have KC’s father’s type. And yet, it was not there.
So that’s why I nag 😉