American Red Cross and Blood Donation

Seeing that NDSU holds multiple blood drives annually, and we had one recently, I think it’s a great opportunity to get more information out there. There are many people who will tell you that it’s important to donate blood, but why? That part is often left out, so as a member of the American Red Cross club, I see it as my job to let you all know!

Having a blood supply for those in need has always been a concern, for blood drives under the Red Cross have been happening since the late 1940’s. The reason why you may be pushed to donate blood is because of the blood shortage the United States is currently experiencing. Over the past two decades, the number of people donating blood has dropped roughly 40%. While this had already been a known issue, the COVID-19 pandemic made it much worse. This has resulted in the Red Cross organization declaring an emergency blood shortage earlier this year. We aren’t the only ones experiencing a shortage either, for 80% of the world is experiencing it too. 

It is also important to note that there is no replacement for blood. If you’re diabetic, you can use synthetic insulin to regulate your blood sugars. If you experience drastic blood loss or need a life-saving transfusion, there is nothing else you can turn to. About 5,000,000 people die each year globally from accidental and non-accidental traumas, and 16% of them could have been prevented with a more effective and rapid hemorrhage control. To put that into perspective, that is 800,000 deaths that could have been prevented.

Donating blood is also not as difficult as it may seem. In the donation process, there are a few different steps. First, you go through registration and get checked in to donate. Second, you go over your health history with donation personnel. Third, you sit down and donate. Finally, you will sit down for some snacks and refreshments to recover from your donation. If you donate whole blood or one pint of blood, you can expect to be there for a little over an hour. As long as you take care of yourself before and after donating, this is not something that would take up a lot of your time. 

Lastly, donating blood is seen as an incredibly generous thing to do. By giving up a little bit of your time and a little bit of your blood, it can make a world of difference. Just donating blood one time can save up to three different lives. In the United States, someone is expected to need blood or platelets every two seconds, and approximately 29,000 units are needed each day. While there are people who need blood on one occasion because of trauma, there are millions who require them routinely. People who are diagnosed with conditions such as cancer or sickle cell anemia may need them weekly, or daily, just so they can live to see another day. 

Not everyone is going to be willing or able to donate blood, and that’s okay. That just means that it is important to know if that is even an option for you. You can learn if you are eligible to donate blood for free by visiting the American Red Cross’s website. If you are willing and able to donate, you may be able to change countless lives. 

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