Put a Bandage on Blood Supply Shortages

Sarah Dean | 6-14-2019


Blood Is Constantly Needed

While driving across town, you might see a sign that reads “Blood Drive Today, Please Donate.” Make no mistake; this is not a simple statement. It’s a cry for help!

Blood banks constantly request and collect donations because hospitals are in an almost constant blood shortage crisis for surgeries and lifesaving transfusions. Did you know only 40% of the US population is eligible to donate blood, yet less than 5% do? Surveys show, the majority of people who avoid donating, do so because of ten reasons.

The need for blood is constant, and maintaining a stable supply is crucial for the preparation of any injury, natural disaster, or tragedy. Blood banks rely on donations to replenish and maintain their supplies to hospitals. Scientists have found ways to engineer many artificial tissues, but blood (which is considered a tissue) is not one of them; it can only be produced by the human body.



June 14th is World Blood Day

The World Health Organization established June 14th as World Blood Donor Day to raise awareness for the need for blood products. June 14 was selected because it is the birthday anniversary of Karl Landsteiner (1868—1943), an Austrian biologist and immunologist who developed the modern system of blood classification into groups A, B, and O.

The 2019 campaign promotes the slogan “Safe Blood for All.” The mission is a call to action for government, blood services, and health care professionals to increase blood donation through numerous platforms. Goals of the campaign from the World Health Organization include:

  • To celebrate and thank individuals who donate blood and to encourage others who haven’t yet;
  • To highlight the need for committed, year-round donations to maintain adequate supplies and achieve universal and timely access to safe blood transfusion;
  • To focus attention on donor health and the quality of donor care as critical factors in building donor commitment and a willingness to donate regularly;
  • To mobilize support at global, national, and regional levels among governments and development partners to invest in, strengthen and sustain blood programs.



Blood Types

There are eight different types of blood; some are fairly common while others are quite rare and in constant demand. Interestingly, while each blood type has its own unique characteristics, most blood types are to some extent compatible with one or more other types.

The major blood types each have specific matches:

As you might imagine, compatibility is vital, otherwise, the recipient’s body will reject the donor blood, which could be fatal. This fact alone makes it imperative for blood banks to have all blood types on hand and ready – regardless of the scenario that presents itself.




Specific blood donation requirements ensure healthy blood for transfusion. The American Red Cross has the full list of all requirements for donors.

Immunizations Requirements

Immunizations are an important topic when it comes to blood donation eligibility. Individuals who have received an immunization must wait for a specific period until they can donate.

Travel Requirements

Individuals traveling to or from the U.S. have separate restrictions for blood donations. For example, travelers to countries with a higher chance of exposure to malaria will not be able to donate for a year. If you are a person under this category, then you are required to bring the travel form with you when donating to allow the blood bank to assess the risk. The form and volunteers will ask the following questions:

  • What countries did you visit and how long did you stay?
  • Where did you travel while in this country?
  • Did you leave the city or resort at any time? If yes, where did you go?
  • What mode of transportation did you use?



Find a Donation Location Near You

When looking for an opportunity to donate blood, you do not have to look hard. Many local churches, hospitals, community centers, and even libraries host blood drives frequently. All these locations are great ways to get involved, and many do mobile blood drives. You can contact a blood donation center nearest to you to find out additional information. The American Red Cross and Advancing Transfusion and Cellular Therapies Worldwide have donation finders on their websites to assist with locating blood drives near you!



Make a Difference

American Red Cross needs your help not only today but every day! As we have outlined, there are many ways to step up and get involved in the donation process. Set aside a small amount of time every eight weeks to donate blood; doing so might just save a life. Make your donation meaningful, select a day to donate blood in honor of a person you care for or an event that has made an impact on you. The small time commitment necessary for blood donation can make a huge impact on those affected by shortages. Did this blog debunk your reason for not donating? If so, take some time out of your day and become a repeat donor – World Blood Day is the perfect time to start!



Author: Sarah Dean

Sarah is the Marketing Communications Intern for the Lewer Agency. A Junior at the University of Kansas, she studies Marketing in the School of Business and minors in the journalism concentration strategic communications.