It may appear that there is a lingering, ever-present shortage. And that is because there is… Only five percent of people donate blood despite 37% of the population being eligible to do so. A myriad of reasons cause the amount usable blood health care systems have on hand to be in short supply. Some are present regardless of circumstances affecting the present day, others come and go.
For example, the rate of blood donations is at its lowest during the winter months, as the holidays, unwelcoming cold weather, and the presence of flue season all contribute to this being the slowest period of the year. This seasonal variation is worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic that has made nearly every aspect of life more complicated in recent times; potentially drawing away medical resources and adding another barrier in the way of those wishing to donate.
Many would-be donors are not permitted to give blood as per the established guidelines. Exposure to certain diseases will disqualify individuals from donating blood, such as malaria or hepatitis. And once blood is donated, it had to be used quickly for the shelf-life of donated blood is at most 42 days.
Additionally, no manufactured alternative to blood exists, donors are the only way to acquire supply. Other obstacles include a lack of staff to administer the donations, general anxiety a person might feel about donating blood, and a seemingly perpetual decline in the number of healthy donors.
The number of factors contributing to our perpetual shortage of donated blood are too numerous to go into depth about here. However, there is one simple thing that any individual can try to do to help alleviate this problem – find out if you are eligible and go donate blood!