World Blood Donor Day (Monday, June 14)

Donate Blood

Be a Life Saver -- Donate Blood

Every 2 seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. Blood donation is a vital necessity, one that has become even more important, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Blood donation is an essential gift of life, as it is often required for surgeries, cancer treatment, chronic illnesses, and traumatic injuries. Whether a patient receives whole blood, red cells, platelets or plasma, lifesaving care begins when someone donates blood.

June 14 is World Blood Donor Day, and your local Capital Women’s Care team wants to share with you the value and importance of becoming a blood donor, how donated blood is used in specific medical treatments and what you can expect during blood donation process.

Why Donate Blood?

In addition to helping to save lives, there are many reasons why donating blood is important:

Blood cannot be manufactured. Despite medical and technological advances, blood and platelets cannot be made, so donations are the only way to give to those in need.

Donated blood must be continually replenished, as blood components have limited storage lifetimes. Red blood cells must be used within 42 days or less and platelets must be used within just 5 days. This means blood donations are always needed to replenish those blood components already used to help others.

Blood is needed every two seconds in the U.S. Nearly 21 million blood components are transfused in the U.S. every year. You can be one of the 6.8 million yearly donors in the U.S. who has done something to help others.

Only 37% of the U.S. population is eligible to give blood or platelets. Of these age-eligible donors only 3% opt to donate.

You, your friends, or loved ones may need blood someday.

1 donation can save 3 lives. One blood donation provides different blood components that can help up to 3 different people.

You can help a wide range of people. Blood donations are necessary for many medical treatments, from those diagnosed with cancer to people who have sustained injuries in car accidents.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), more than 1.8 million people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer just last year, with many needing blood, sometimes daily, during chemotherapy treatment.

A single car accident victim may require as many as 100 units of blood.

Blood Types

There are very specific ways in which blood types must be matched for safe transfusion. The right blood transfusion can mean the difference between life and death.

Blood types are determined by the presence or absence of certain antigens, substances that can trigger an immune response if they are foreign to the body. Since some antigens can trigger a patient's immune system to attack transfused blood, safe blood transfusions depend upon careful blood typing and cross-matching.

There are 4 major blood groups determined by the presence or absence of two antigens – A and B – on the surface of red blood cells. In addition to the A and B antigens, there is a protein called the Rh factor, which can be either present (+) or absent (–), creating the 8 most common blood types (A+, A-B+, B-O+, O-AB+, AB-).

Rh-negative blood is given to Rh-negative patients, and Rh-positive or Rh-negative blood may be given to Rh-positive patients. The rules for plasma are the reverse.

There are 600-plus known additional antigens, the presence or absence of which create rare blood types.  Certain blood types are unique to specific ethnic or racial groups. That’s why an African-American blood donation may be the best hope for the needs of patients with sickle cell disease, many of whom have African ancestry.

It is important to know your blood type, including your Rh factor, in the event you require a blood transfusion.

Universal Donors

Universal donors are those who can donate either their red cells or plasma to anyone. The universal red cell donor has Type O negative blood. The universal plasma donor has Type AB blood. Those with either Type O negative blood or Type AB blood are encouraged to become regular donors because their red cells or platelets can help more people.

Blood Donation Process

Donating blood is a safe and straightforward 4-step process:

registration -- you are signed in and go over basic eligibility requirements. You need to show a photo ID (your driver’s license.) You then read information about the donation process and provide your complete mailing address.

medical history and mini-physical -- You are asked a few questions about your health history and places you traveled to during a private, confidential interview. Let staff know about any prescription and/or over the counter medications that may be in your system. Your temperature, pulse, blood pressure and hemoglobin levels are checked.

donation – If you are donating whole blood, an area on your arm is cleansed. The technician inserts a brand-new sterile needle for blood drawing that feels like a quick pinch and is over in seconds.

A whole blood donation takes about 8-10 minutes, during which you’ll be seated comfortably or lying down. Approximately 1 pint of whole blood is drawn. A bandage is then placed on your arm once the process is complete.

Other types of donations, such as platelets, are made using an apheresis machine which  connects to both arms.

For platelets, the apheresis machine collects a small amount of blood, removes the platelets, and returns the rest of the blood through your other arm; the cycle repeats several times over approximately 2 hours.

and refreshments -- After making your blood donation, you have a snack and something to drink in the refreshment area. Donors can leave after 10 to 15 minutes and continue with a normal routine.

If possible, make sure you schedule your next blood donation appointment before you leave.

Types of Blood Donations

There are 4 types of transfusable products derived from blood:

On average 2 or 3 transfusable products come from 1 pint of donated whole blood. Each whole blood donation can help to save more than 1 life.

A sterile needle is used only once for each donor and is safely discarded afterwards.

The actual donation process typically takes 10 to 12 minutes or less. The entire process, from arrival until completion, takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

The average adult body has approximately 10 pints of blood within. Roughly 1 pint is given during a donation.

Who Benefits from Blood Donations?

Blood donors help people of all ages every day, including:

Cancer patients, who benefit from platelets donation. Specific cancers and cancer treatments prevent patients from producing their own platelets.

Trauma and surgery patients, who benefit from Power Red donations. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body to ensure its systems function properly.  AB Elite plasma donation also benefits these patients because AB plasma is required to help stop bleeding. Type AB, the universal plasma donor's blood type, can be given to any patient needing plasma.

Sickle cell anemia patients, who benefit from whole blood donations, especially from African-America blood donors. These patients require multiple transfusions and must be very closely matched to the donor’s blood type, usually from the same ethnic and racial group.

Burn patients, who benefit from AB Elite plasma donations. Plasma helps maintain blood pressure and other vital functions. Type AB, the universal plasma donor's blood type, can be given to any patient needing plasma.

Patients with chronic diseases. A single whole blood donation can help more than 1 person facing chronic illnesses. All blood types are needed.

It is important to share any medical diagnoses and medications you are currently taking (over the counter or those which are prescribed), as some conditions and medications may cause blood donation ineligibility. With some medications, once final doses are taken and a waiting period occurs, people may then become eligible to be blood donors.

What If I Am Ineligible to Donate Blood?

If you are determined ineligible to donate blood, you can still make a huge difference. You can

  • host or plan a virtual blood drive
  • become a Red Cross volunteer
  • or make a financial donation.

The need for blood donations is continuous and your contribution is important to ensure a healthy, reliable blood supply. Plus, you will help to change someone’s health and life. Your local Capital Women’s Care team is here for you should you have questions or concerns about your health, including those relating to how blood donation or transfusion may become part of your individual health plan and care. Our goal is to provide you with quality, comprehensive care and treatment to ensure you achieve and enjoy a long, healthy life.

To learn more about blood donation and the Red Cross, please visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Scared of donating blood during the pandemic? Now may be the most important time (

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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