Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. requires a blood transfusion, according to the American Red Cross. The benefits of donating blood include helping people injured in accidents, undergoing cancer treatment, and battling blood diseases, among other reasons.
Unfortunately, current blood shortages are leading to delays in critical blood transfusions for people in need. In January 2022, the American Red Cross announced that it was facing its worst blood shortage in a decade amid the Omicron surge. This spring, the New York Blood Center said it has been experiencing an alarming drop in donations due to school spring breaks and holiday travel. These shortages are occurring as COVID rates are once again rising. This is why blood donors are needed now more than ever before.
“Donating blood saves lives,” says Dr. Robert DeSimone, director of transfusion medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, who is encouraging people to do their part and make an appointment to donate.
“For as long as medicine has been around, we’ve had to rely on the goodness of other people to give us blood when we need it,” says Dr. Sarah Vossoughi, the medical director of apheresis and associate director of transfusion medicine and cellular therapy at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “We really need people who want to come and donate. The fact that we can store blood and use it when we need it in parts—whether you need the red cells, the plasma, or the platelets—has been a huge medical advance.”
While blood donors don’t expect to be rewarded for the act of kindness, rolling up your sleeve comes with some surprising health benefits. Here’s what you get when you give blood: