As the winter months set in, the challenges facing the blood community are amplified by weather-related events such as severe storms, snow, ice, and cold. These factors can severely impact blood drives and complicate the transportation of life-saving blood to hospitals, presenting a challenge for ensuring an adequate blood supply. Despite these challenges, community blood centers are able to meet the demand for blood across the country. You can learn more about the current state of the nation’s blood supply and get a snapshot of supply levels here.
These environmental factors are compounding long-term trends already impacting the nation’s blood supply. These include declines in the overall number of individuals donating blood each year, the number of donors under the age of 50, along with a reduction in school and business-based blood drives, traditional sources of blood donation that are gradually recovering from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, nearly 60% of blood donations come from individuals over 40, and almost 45% are from those aged over 50. From 2019 to 2021, there was a 60.7% decrease in donations from individuals 16-18 years old and a 31.9% decrease in donations from individuals 19-24 years old. This is significant, as donations from younger generations are pivotal for the stability and diversification of the blood supply.
Creating a diverse pool of blood donors is crucial for patient care, particularly for those with conditions that require frequent transfusions, including Sickle Cell disease and Thalassemia, which disproportionately affect minority populations. For these patients, it is imperative to match beyond blood type and find blood donations from individuals from similar ethnic backgrounds. However, less than 20% of all blood donations currently come from communities of color, highlighting the need for continued efforts to increase blood donations across communities of color.
Every two seconds, someone in America requires a blood transfusion, and each day, over 42,000 units of red blood cells, platelets, and plasma used by patients. These transfusions are essential in treating acute care needs such as trauma, as well as in disease management for patients facing cancer treatment, cardiovascular and orthopedic surgeries, and organ and bone marrow transplants.
America’s Blood Centers and our members are committed to addressing the challenges facing our national blood supply and ensuring blood products remain available for all patients in need. Learn more about our advocacy work and get involved today.