National Blood Donor Month

Donate blood

National Blood Donor Month: Give the Gift of Life

Every 2 seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. Blood is essential for surgeries, cancer treatment, chronic illnesses and traumatic injuries. Whether a patient receives whole blood, red cells, platelets or plasma, lifesaving care begins when just 1 person makes a generous gift of life through donating blood.

Blood donations are becoming more crucial, as the iteration of COVID variants continues and important blood stores deplete when illnesses requiring hospitalization rise to critical levels, particularly during winter months. In January 2022, the Red Cross stated it was experiencing the worst blood shortage in a decade amid the Omicron surge. What’s more, the Red Cross relates only 37% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood. While that seems a high percentage, less than 10% of those age-eligible to donate blood choose to do so each year, posing a serious health threat because of limited availability of blood and blood components.

January is designated as National Blood Donor Month. Your local Capital Women’s Care team of women’s health professionals shares the importance of stocking local blood banks and reasons for those who are eligible to become regular blood donors; the benefits blood donorship offers both donors and recipients; an overview of the blood donation process; plus, comprehensive information outlining how blood donations are used to help others.

Blood Supply’s Importance 

The Red Cross provides about 40% of our country’s blood and blood components, all from generous volunteer donors. However, available supply can’t always meet current demands because less than 10% of age-eligible people donate blood yearly. Each new donor helps to meet patients’ many critical needs, offering those requiring blood or blood components opportunity for healing and better-quality health.

An estimated 6.8 million people in the U.S. donate blood yearly, with 13.6 million units of whole blood and red blood cells collected within the U.S. annually.

Blood and blood components have stringent timeframes regarding storage longevity. For instance, red blood cells must be used within 42 days (or less) and platelets must be used within just 5 days. Frozen plasma can be stored for 1 year. Additionally, blood and platelets cannot be manufactured; they can only come from volunteer donors.

The demand for blood and blood components is extensive within the U.S., requiring constant replenishment to meet demands across the country:

  • Every 2 seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood and/or platelets.
  • Approximately 29,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U. S.
  • Nearly 5,000 units of platelets and 6.500 units of plasma are needed daily in the U.S.
  • Nearly 16 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S.
  • The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 units.
  • About 1 in 7 people who are admitted to the hospital require blood.
  • Just 1 car accident victim can require as many as 100 units of blood.
  • One donation has the power to save up to 3 lives.
  • About 1.8 million newly diagnosed cancer patients annually may require receiving blood daily during chemotherapy treatments.

If only 1 more percent of all Americans would give blood, blood shortages would disappear for the foreseeable future and save even more lives, including yours or that of someone you love, shares the Red Cross.

Benefits of Donating Blood

While donors give others the gift of life, they also reap specific health benefits:

  • You get a mini physical each time you donate. Health screening may discover a previously undiagnosed health issue like heart arrythmia, high blood pressure or infection or that you have a rare blood type, important knowledge should you require transfusion during surgery or other health procedures. Thirteen tests (11 for infectious diseases) are performed on each unit of donated blood.

  • A healthier vascular system and heart. Regular blood donation is linked to lower blood pressure and decreased risk of heart attack. These lowered cardio risk factors are more beneficial to men.

  • Relief from hereditary hemochromatosis.  Those diagnosed with this condition make too much normal blood for their body. They must have blood removed regularly to prevent iron buildup. Fortunately, this extra blood can benefit others requiring blood and its components.

  • Opportunity for a happy, long life. Just 1 donation can save 3 lives. Those who donate do so because they want to help others. These feelings of altruism and volunteering have been scientifically linked to positive health, including lowered depression risks and increased longevity. 

How Donations Help Others

Donors help people of all ages in various health situations requiring blood and/or blood components:

  • Cancer patients benefit best from platelets donation, because certain cancers and cancer treatments prevent patients from producing their own.

  • Trauma patients benefit best from Power Red, because red cells carry oxygen throughout the body and are frequently given to trauma and surgery patients or AB Elite plasma donation, because AB plasma is needed to help stop bleeding.

  • Sickle Cell patients benefit best from whole blood or Power Red, especially from blood donors of African descent. Patients with sickle cell disease, who are predominantly Black, can require multiple blood transfusions every year. Donated blood must be very closely matched to the donor’s blood type to avoid transfusion-related complications. Since most patients with sickle cell disease are Black or African American, the most compatible blood type match is most often from a donor sharing the same ethnicity.

  • Burn patients benefit best from AB Elite because plasma helps to maintain blood pressure and other vital functions.

  • Patients with chronic diseases benefit best from a single whole blood donation, which can help more than 1 person.

The Blood Donation Process

Donating blood and components is an easy process. You must meet eligibility requirements for donating blood and its components. The blood donation process from your arrival until you leave takes about 1 hour, with the actual donation itself taking only 8 to 10 minutes on average.

There are 4 steps to donating blood:

  • Registration – includes evaluating basic eligibility, while providing contact information and identification plus information concerning blood donation.

  • Health History – evaluates your personal health and travel histories and prescription and over-the-counter medications you’re currently taking and checks your temperature, pulse, blood pressure and hemoglobin levels. Your information is taken during a private, confidential interview.

  • Donation – a whole blood donation takes about 8 to 10 minutes total to complete and requires a single needle to draw the donation. Whole blood donation is 1 pint.

    If you’re donating platelets, the process takes about 2 hours to complete, as blood travels through an apheresis machine which removes donated blood platelets and returns the remaining blood through your other arm in cycles. Each arm receives a needle during platelet donation.

  • Refreshment and Recovery – occur after donation and include a snack and drink. After a 10-to-15-minute wait, your donation is complete, and you can continue your day feeling good knowing you helped others.

COVID-19 and Blood Donation

It’s important to note you may still donate blood, platelets or plasma after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. You must know the manufacturer name of the vaccine given to you to help determine your blood donation eligibility. Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and blood donation.

Those who have recovered from COVID-19 may be able to help others with the disease by donating blood plasma, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).Their plasma can contain antibodies to the infection. If another person receives this plasma, it may help their body fight the virus.

Become a Blood Donor

All blood types are valuable and urgently needed. You can register online to begin the process of becoming a blood donor. Go to or download the free Blood Donor App and text "BLOODAPP" to 90999. Scheduling your blood donation is the first step toward giving others a valuable, life-saving gift.

Your local Capital Women’s Care team of expert doctors, nurses and health support staff is here to answer your questions and address your concerns regarding blood donation or any women’s health issue. Our knowledgeable, professional team prioritizes offering you comprehensive women’s health care, so you enjoy a long quality life. 


Our Mission

The providers of Capital Women's Care seek the highest quality medical and ethical standard in an environment that nurtures the spirit of caring for every woman.


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