It’s no secret that the US blood supply is in a constant state of vulnerability. Donating blood — something that was instilled in the World War II and Baby Boomer generations as somewhat of a civic responsibility — has fallen out of favor in the past few generations.
Although the amount of blood transfused in the US has fallen since 2008, the amount of blood donated has fallen even faster (see the infographic below). As covered in the Seattle Times, the loyal donor population is aging out, and the younger generations are failing to replace them at an adequate rate.
What Researchers Are Doing
As organizations such as America’s Blood Centers and its Association of Donor Recruitment Professionals division work to recruit and retain younger donors, research scientists are doing their part to find a solution to the blood supply shortage.
Researchers around the country are developing substitutes for whole blood and its components. Potential solutions include induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) to create platelets, synthetic platelet alternatives, the possibility of lab-grown red blood cells, and even an oxygen-carrying blood substitute.
While these innovations are exciting, most are far from being ready, and in some cases, are far-fetched at best to ever reach widespread adoption.
In the meantime, we can all do our part by donating to the best of our abilities and encouraging others to do the same.
A Blood Shortage Crisis
Blood Donations Are Falling Faster Than Transfusions
6.8 Million Donors Every Year
32.3% Are First Time Donors
38% of US Population Eligible to Donate
Less Than 10% Donates
Blood Donors by Age Group
Ages 16-22: 10% of Population, 20% of Blood Donors
Ages 23-29: 10% of Population, 10% of Blood Donors
Ages 30-39: 13% of Population, 12% of Blood Donors
Ages 40-49: 14% of Population, 15% of Blood Donors
Ages 50+: 59% of Population, 45% of Blood Donors
You Can Help!
1 Bag of Blood Saves 3 Lives
You Can Donate Every 8 Weeks
Donation Takes 10-20 Minutes
What’s Your Blood Type?
Uncommon blood types are in high demand.
Blood Type O+: 39% of Population
Blood Type O-: 9% of Population (Universal Donor)
Blood Type A+: 30% of Population
Blood Type A-: 6% of Population
Blood Type B+: 9% of Population
Blood Type B-: 2% of Population
Blood Type AB+: 4% of Population (Universal Recipient)
Blood Type AB-: 1% of Population