Survey reveals public misconceptions about blood needs and donation
A recent survey, conducted on behalf of the Red Cross, revealed a troubling disconnect between the public’s perception of blood donations and the realities of patient transfusion needs.
- Three-quarters (74 percent) of the public underestimate how frequently blood transfusions occur.* Most people perceive blood is needed in the U.S. every 15 minutes or even every hour or two hours when in fact, every two seconds, someone in this country needs blood.
- Nearly half of the public (45 percent) know someone who has been helped by a blood transfusion.* Yet only three percent of the U.S. population donates each year.
- More than one-third (35 percent) of the public has never considered that blood may not be available when they or a loved one need it.* Blood shortages are not uncommon in the United States and can only be prevented when more people roll up a sleeve to give.
- More than half (53 percent) of the public believe they need to know their blood type to donate.* Good news – Potential blood donors do not need to know their blood type before giving blood. After individuals give blood, the Red Cross provides each donor their blood type. By joining the #MissingType movement, donors can find out their blood type this summer.
Missing letters can lead to delays in treatment
Lily Dotson and her family know how serious blood shortages can be for patients. During Lily’s 2 1/2 years of treatment for high-risk leukemia, her family was told twice that the hospital didn’t have the blood or platelets she needed and that she would have to wait for transfusions. It was incredibly frustrating and eye-opening for Lily’s mom, Susie Dotson.
“People automatically think blood is there. They don’t realize we’re relying on their blood donation,” said Dotson. “Lily needed blood products just as much as the chemo or the treatment.”
Lily, now 11, has been cancer-free for four years and is preparing to enter middle school this year.
Each day, blood and platelets are needed for accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those like Lily who are receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease. The Red Cross must collect more than 13,000 blood donations every day for patients at approximately 2,600 hospitals across the country.
New donors needed
Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. But for the past four years, new Red Cross donors have declined by about 80,000 each year. This is not just a Red Cross trend, but a challenge blood collection organizations face across the country and around the world.
Donating blood is a simple process and only takes about an hour from start to finish.
- Registration: Sign in, show ID and read required information.
- Health check: Answer questions and receive a mini-physical.
- Donation: Giving a pint of blood only takes about eight to 10 minutes.
- Refreshments: Donors enjoy snacks and relax before resuming their day.
The Red Cross appreciates the support of its 18 lead partners who have joined the #MissingType campaign, including: Adobe, Anheuser-Busch, AvalonBay Communities, Inc., Domino’s, Dropbox, Google, IBM, Land O’Lakes, Inc., Mastercard, Nationwide, Neiman Marcus, the New York Yankees, Oreo, PayPal, Salesforce, State Farm®, Sunoco and U.S. Bank.
How to donate blood
All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass are encouraged to help speed up the donation process. RapidPass lets donors complete the pre-donation reading and answer the health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation from the convenience of a mobile device or computer, or through the Blood Donor App.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit RedCross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.
Supplemental Information about Survey Methodology
*These are the findings from an Ipsos poll conducted April 16-18, 2018, on behalf of the Red Cross. For the survey, a sample of 503 adults ages 18 and over from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online, in English. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of ±5.0 percentage points for all respondents surveyed.