We’ve all received little “thank you’s” throughout our days – a “thank you” for holding a door, or the “thank you” after being handed your cup of coffee in the morning. Think back though, has anyone ever thanked you for saving a life?

Unless you’re a doctor or paramedic, chances are that you’ve never heard that particular “thank you” before. But, if you’ve ever donated blood, there is someone out there who is doing just that: thanking you for saving their life, you just don’t realize it yet.

World Blood Donor Day is celebrated annually on June 14th. While the World Health Organization holds this campaign every year to encourage more people to donate blood, this year has a special emphasis on thanking those who already have.

If you are considering donating blood, here are some statistics on how those blood donations are actually used:

In low-income countries, 65% of all blood donations are given to children under the age of 5. In high-income countries, up to 76% of all donations are given to patients 65 years or older.

In total, there are 108 million blood donations worldwide. This might sound like a high number, but over half of those are in high-income countries, which only accounts for 18% of the world’s population. This means that low-income countries not only have more people, but also have a markedly lower availability of blood.

Are you eligible to donate blood?

The three general requirements for donating blood in the US, UK, and Australia, are that you should 1) be in good health, 2) be at least 17 years old (some exceptions apply), and 3) weigh at least110 lbs (50 kg).

Each country and state has their own specific set of guidelines including those for medication, travel, and chronic illnesses. The full list of eligibility requirements outlined by the Red Cross is available here.

How does blood type affect blood donations?

All blood types are different – there isn’t one that’s better than the others but those letters and + or – signs all mean something. Out of the 8 possible blood types, O positive and A positive are the most common, while AB negative is the most rare. The universal donor is blood type O negative, while the universal plasma donor is type AB positive.

The rarer the blood type, the less donated blood of that type is available. So if you have one of the lesser common blood types, please consider donating. But that doesn’t mean those of you with more common blood types should stop donating! As the slogan for this year’s World Blood Donor Day campaign states: “Give freely, give often. Blood donation matters.”

And to those who have already donated blood, thank you for saving a life.


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