Statement from the Assistant Secretary for Health Recognizing National Blood Donor Month
In recognition of January as “National Blood Donor Month,” I want to encourage everyone to help save lives through blood donation. While many already qualify as regular blood donors, so many more can contribute. We seek more everyday heroes whose gift of blood donation can allow others to raise their quality of life.
Regular blood donations are more critical than ever to meet the demand. Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs a blood transfusion. One of every seven patients entering a hospital will require blood for their treatment. More than 40,000 units of blood are needed every day in this country. In our department, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, we encourage our employees to join the effort and to donate during one of the several blood drives we hold annually.
Furthermore, less than five percent currently donate, while approximately 95 percent of the American population will either need blood during their lifetime or knows someone who will. Specifically, an estimated eight million people donate blood each year, but so many more could make a profound difference. Consider the mother in labor who has suffered a hemorrhage, the friend traumatized in a motor vehicle accident, the neighbor who has undergone emergency surgery, or the child struggling with sickle cell anemia. All of them rely on us to donate. Just one pint of blood can save up to three lives. Having all eligible blood donors give at least twice a year would greatly help our country generate an adequate blood supply.
Eligibility requirements to donate vary by state, but in general one must be 16 years of age, a minimum of 110 pounds, and in basic good health. To find your local blood center and learn more about blood donation, please visit www.AmericasBlood.org or call 1-888-USBLOOD. Please check with your local community blood bank to determine the exact requirements.
Please make a commitment in the New Year to become a regular blood donor. Take this opportunity, during National Blood Donor Month 2010, to give or pledge to give blood. Thank you for heeding the call and contributing to the public health of our Nation.
Howard K. Koh, M.D., M.P.H., is the assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As the assistant secretary for health, Dr. Koh leads an array of interdisciplinary programs including those related to disease prevention, health promotion, bioethics, vaccine programs, the reduction of health disparities, and the national blood supply.