Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. What if that someone was you? A family member or a friend? One in four people will need a blood transfusion sometime in their lifetime, yet just 5 percent of eligible donors give. With such a great need, why aren’t we quicker to establish ourselves as a frequent donor?
The answer just may be in the messaging to encourage donations. A study conducted last year and published in the journal PLOS ONE found that saying blood donation is a way to “prevent death” was more effective that saying it can “save a life.” Likewise, the study found that messages that suggested, “helping people avoid loss” were more appealing than messages that suggested, “helping people gain benefits.” According to the lead researcher, the subtle change in donation campaign messaging may be effective because “the pain of losing is about twice as strong as the joy of gaining the same amount.”
Given what we know about the need for blood donation, changing the way we communicate this need could make a significant difference. The average donor is older than 40 years old and is a frequent donor; however, as their age increases, so does their eligibility because they are more likely to need blood themselves. Americans from the World War II and post-war era have been the most consistent and loyal donors, but as the rise in procedures that use blood surges, so should the number of donors.
Without blood donors, we will not have the blood that’s required to for surgery, transplant, accident, or transfusion. Type O- is the universal donor, because most people can accept this type of blood. Only 10 percent of the population has Type-O blood, so they are encouraged to donate. One unit of blood can support up to three lives and provide the strength, hope, and courage to those who need it most. If only one more percent of all Americans would give blood, blood shortages would disappear for the foreseeable future.
It’s important to remember that blood isn’t just important in the event of tragedies or emergencies. Instead, it should be a normal and routine part of our lives. Regular blood donations mean that there will be sufficient amounts of safe blood in stock.
Blood donation is a simple four-step process: registration, medical history and mini-physical, donation, and refreshments. It is a safe process, and the actual blood donation takes less than 15 minutes. A healthy donor may donate red blood cells every 56 days, double red cells every 112 days, plasma every 29 days, with at least 7 days between platelet donations. You cannot donate platelets more than 24 times a year, however.
Because there is no substitute for human blood, volunteer donors need to roll up their sleeves and lend an arm to help support life. Your investment of time and your gift as a donor deliver the greatest possible return. Within days, your blood will have impacted someone’s life. Where else can you volunteer one hour of time and support up to three lives?