College of American Pathologists
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  Blood Donation


Posted May 6, 2009


The College of American Pathologists urges all eligible persons to donate blood on a regular basis to ensure that adequate blood supplies are available wherever and whenever needed.

Information Highlights

The need

  • Blood is needed every three seconds.
  • Seven out of ten people require blood in their lifetime.
  • On any given day, approximately 38,000 units of red blood cells are used in the United States.
  • Very few healthy Americans who are eligible to give blood actually donate each year.
  • Accidents, trauma and burn victims frequently require blood transfusions for survival; without a blood transfusion they would die.
  • Heart surgery, organ transplants and patients who are being treated for leukemia, cancer or other diseases often require many transfusions to continue their life.
  • With the aging baby boomers and advances in medical technology, the demand for blood continues to rise.
  • Blood cannot be manufactured or harvested. The only source of blood is by individual volunteer donation.
  • Donating blood regularly helps replenish the nation’s blood supply.
  • It is especially important for our nation’s blood supply to be high, to ensure that hospitals and communities are prepared, should a natural disaster strike.

Donating Blood: Frequency and Safety

  • Donating blood is a safe and easy process.
  • A sterile, disposable needle is used for each blood donation. Each needle is then discarded.
  • Blood donors must be in good health and at least 17 years of age. Minimum weight requirements may vary depending upon where you are donating, but 110 pounds is generally an accepted guideline.
  • The blood donor is asked some health questions and is given a mini physical—temperature, blood pressure and red cell count check—prior to donation to confirm that it is safe for the donor to give blood. Only healthy individuals are permitted to donate blood.
  • The donor’s health history and test results are confidential and cannot be given out without his/her permission, except as required by law.
  • Once the health questions and mini physical examination are finished, a whole blood donation takes from 10- 20 minutes to collect the blood.
  • Every donation is tested for infectious diseases, including HIV, hepatitis B and C virus and other infectious disease. Donors who test positive for infectious disease are notified so that the blood collecting agency can explain and assist with understanding the test result. All units collected from donors with abnormal test results are discarded and not included in the blood supply.
  • You can give blood every eight weeks (56 days) if donating whole blood. If you are donating other blood components, such as platelets or plasma, you may donate more frequently.
  • Blood donations are accepted at several places. American Red Cross centers, America’s Blood Centers and hospitals are three types of locations. Churches, businesses, colleges and community organizations often have blood drives.

Pathologists’ Role in Blood Donation

  • Pathologists receive special training in blood banking and transfusion medicine. Pathologists are the physician consultants and medical directors of blood banks and/or transfusion services.
  • The College of American Pathologists, along with other accreditation agencies, is responsible for the inspection and proficiency testing for most blood banks, blood donor services, and hospital transfusion services in the United States.

Free Reminder to Donate Blood

  • The College of American Pathologists provides a free Internet-based service to help remind men and women to schedule their regular blood donations. The site will send an e-mail reminder to an individual on the day they select, to remind them to schedule their blood donation.