Dorothy Fink, M.D., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Women's Health and Director, Office on Women's Health; Kaye Hayes, M.P.A.,Acting Director, Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy
Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. requires blood to compensate for blood loss resulting from varying causes, including accidents, natural disasters, and surgical procedures. There are many medical conditions such as anemia, chronic kidney disease, sickle cell disease and leukemia, which often require blood transfusions. In addition, an estimated 3% of women – or about 4,000 U.S. women each year – receive blood transfusions after giving birth.
These situations requiring blood to be transfused from one person to another can’t always be predicted. Blood has a short shelf-life and cannot be developed in a laboratory, which means there is a constant need for people in communities to donate blood and plasma.
Blood – comprised of red and white blood cells, platelets, and plasma – plays an essential role in keeping us alive. Plasma helps red blood cells deliver oxygen from your lungs to your organs, white blood cells to fight infection, and platelets to clot blood. However, during most of the COVID-19 pandemic our hospital systems have faced a shortage in the blood supply due to decreased donations and staff shortages.
Common misconceptions about who is eligible to give blood
We often hear women would like to give blood, but they’re unsure if they can. They also wonder whether blood type matters, how frequently a person can donate, and how COVID-19 infection or vaccination may affect whether a person is eligible to give blood. Donor eligibility will vary by location but generally:
You can donate blood if you:
- are at least 16 years of age or older,
- weigh at least 110 pounds,
- are in good health and not taking antibiotics,
Postpone giving blood if you:
- are sick;
- tested positive for COVID-19 or had COVID-19 symptoms in the last 14 days;
- had to self-quarantine in the last 14 days; or
- are experiencing any side effects from a COVID-19 vaccine.
As we celebrate National Women’s Health Week, we encourage everyone to schedule an appointment to donate blood and learn more about how you can help host a blood drive. Not sure where you can donate? Find a location near you by using an online locator.
For more information, visit:
- Blood Donation Basics: https://www.hhs.gov/oidp/topics/blood-tissue-safety/giving-blood-plasma/index.html
- Step-by-step Guide on How to Give Blood, including eligibility information, and what to do about potential side effects: https://www.hhs.gov/oidp/topics/blood-tissue-safety/donate-blood/index.html
Together we can play a crucial role in supporting our health care systems and assuring all patients, including women and their families, have the treatments they need.