Hoosiers are encouraged to join a global observance today celebrating a critical part of modern medicine. Every two seconds, a person in the United States needs blood, and World Blood Donor Day is an opportunity to thank the unpaid donors who roll up their sleeves to help save lives.
Duane Brodt with public relations for Versiti – which runs several donor centers in Indiana – says summer is an especially crucial time for donations, as the blood supply can drop by as much as 20%.
“We rely heavily on high school and college students for about 30% of our blood supply, and in the summer there are no high school or college blood drives” says Brodt. “The second reason is many students are working summer jobs and they’re not as likely to donate on their own. Third, families are busy with summer vacations and holiday gatherings.”
World Blood Donor Day is held annually on the birthday of Nobel Prize-winning scientist Dr. Karl Landsteiner, whose discovery of the various blood groups spurred breakthroughs in blood transfusions. It’s estimated that one donation can save up to three lives.
About 6.8 million people in the U.S. give blood each year, but just a fraction of people who are able to donate blood actually do so. Brodt is hopeful World Blood Donor Day will help change that.
“We serve about 80 hospitals here in Indiana,” says Brodt. “In order to meet their need, we need to collect blood from 560 people in Indiana a day. So we’re asking people to make a pledge to make two blood donations this summer. That will greatly enhance our ability to serve our partner hospitals.”
He adds that Type O-negative blood is especially sought after, because it can be given to patients of all blood types. Potential blood donors must be at least 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health.