Why Are There Blood Shortages?

America and Canada need roughly about 43,000 units of blood per day.

It is quite a real necessity in this day and age to have blood on the hospital shelves when needed, as there continues to be an ever-growing need for blood. Last September, there was a shortage that had enough impact in America to cause elective surgeries to be cancelled or put on hold in at least three major cities within the United States. During that time, in a phone interview with Red Cross President Dr. Bernadine Healy, she stated, “This is one of the worst ones that the Red Cross has seen.

But what causes blood shortages? Don’t enough people donate already? Their answer is a very bleak, no. In America, what a lot of people do not realize is that three-out-of-four people will at one point in their life need at least one blood transfusion. About one in seven people entering a hospital for care or treatment will need blood on a daily basis. Below you will find a few of the reasons why blood shortages can and do happen.

Why Blood Shortages Occur

  • There is a growing demand for blood. Donation rates increase at 3% annually, but the demand for blood is increasing at 6% annually.
  • Higher rates of complex surgeries and treatments are taking place. These can include chemotherapy, organ transplants, and many other major surgeries.
  • Out of Americans, only 37% are eligible to donate, but less than 10% of those eligible actually do donate.
  • Blood transfusions can and usually do take more than one pint. A whole blood donation or red cell donation can take up to three pints for just that single successful transfusion.
  • There currently is no man-made substitute for human blood. It literally is something that has to be given to achieve any sort of supply.

These are just a few of the reasons, but one of the most mind-boggling little bits of information is that if everyone who donated blood just donated one more time a year almost all shortages would be eliminated or greatly alleviated. It certainly makes you think. It makes you think a little more about how crucial the message on those “URGENT! BLOOD DONORS NEEDED!” signs actually are. It makes you think a little more in-depth about how much blood is actually used every day. Hopefully it makes you think a little more about donating again when you are eligible.

Remember that even though you are only donating one pint of blood, you literally are giving part of yourself and that moment of your life in sacrifice so that others may live. In fact, as you might know, one blood donation can save up to three lives or at the very least improve someone’s current physical situation. If you are eligible what is stopping you from donating?

What else do you know that contributes to blood shortages throughout America and Canada?