Blood Facts

Blood is the lifeline of our body. Read these blood facts to learn more about what makes blood such an essential, life-sustaining force and how your donations critically impact the lives of patients in our communities.

  • 4.5 million Americans receive blood transfusions each year. 
  • 40,000 pints are transfused each day in the United States – to save the lives of cancer patients, accident, burn, and trauma victims, newborn babies, mothers delivering babies, transplant patients, surgery patients and others in need.
  • Much of today's sophisticated medical care (transplants, heart surgeries, etc.) relies on blood transfusions. 
  • Car accident and trauma victims may need as many as 50 or more red cell transfusions. 
  • Severe burn victims may need as many as 20 platelet transfusions. 
  • Bone marrow transplant patients may require platelets and red cells from more than 100 donors. 
  • Blood products are perishable: donated red cells last only 42 days, platelets last only 5 days, and plasma can be frozen for a year. 
  • State-of-the art automated red blood cell donation (Alyx) allows donors to double their impact by donating two units of red cells in one visit.

Blood 101

  • Blood is composed of cells suspended in a liquid. These cells—red cells, white cells, and platelets—account for up to 50% of the volume of blood. The remaining liquid portion is plasma. 
  • Red cells transport oxygen throughout the body—oxygen provides the fuel, or energy, for all the work your body does.

  • White cells, also known as leukocytes, are the protective cells in the blood stream. They attack bacteria by squeezing through capillary walls to reach the area of infection where they destroy bacteria. They also produce antibodies.

  • Platelets are colorless fragments of cells produced in the bone marrow. They control bleeding by helping to form a blood clot. Platelets also assure that blood vessels stay "leak-proof" in daily life by acting like an internal Band-Aid®. 

  • Plasma is the liquid through which all blood cells "swim" and contains minerals, proteins, sugars, and hormones.