This chart shows the various blood types and their frequency in the U.S. population.
- O Positive – 38%
- A Positive – 34%
- B positive – 9 %
- AB positive – 3%
- O negative – 7%
- A negative – 6%
- B negative – 2%
- AB negative – 1%
What is blood?
Blood is a living tissue composed of blood cells suspended in plasma.
The cellular elements, red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets – make up about 45% of the volume of whole blood. Plasma, which is 92% water, makes up the remaining 55%.
What does blood do?
The average adult has 8 – 12 pints of blood traveling all over his or her body through the heart, lungs, arteries, veins and capillaries. Blood is an essential part of our bodies that transports oxygen, nutrients, and metabolic waste. In addition to all that, blood performs these functions:
- Replenishes oxygen and removes carbon dioxide
- Distributes essential nutrients to cells
- Carries away metabolic waste materials for disposal
- Recognizes antigens (foreign substances) and produces antibodies (immune defense mechanisms)
- Clots cuts, wounds and scratches to prevent bleeding
How is blood used?
Blood and its components have many uses. Find out more!
Hospitals stock some of the more common blood components used in emergencies, but usually blood products are not ordered until they are needed. They are kept at the Rock River Valley Blood Center until a hospital orders them.
Red cells can be used for 42 days after they are donated. They are used in the treatment of accident victims, to replace blood lost during surgery, to treat burn victims and to increase the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity. They are also used in the treatment of anemia that can’t be medically corrected.
Platelets are stored separate from other components and must be used in the five days following the donation. They are commonly used to treat bone marrow failure, leukemia and cancer patients, low platelet count or other conditions causing abnormally functioning platelets.
Plasma has a much longer shelf life and is often frozen for later use. Once thawed, plasma is used during cardiac surgery, for burn victims, and to treat bleeding disorders when many clotting factors are missing. This occurs in liver failure, when too much of a blood thinner has been given or when severe bleeding and massive transfusions result in low levels of clotting factors.
Some things that plasma is used for includes:
Factor VII concentrate is used in the treatment and prevention of bleeding episodes.
Factor VIII concentrate and cryoprecipitate are used by patients with hemophilia A (classic hemophilia), which is caused by a deficiency of factor VIII.
Factor IX concentrate is used by patients with hemophilia B (“Christmas disease”), which is caused by a deficiency of clotting factor IX.
Cryoprecipitate is prepared from plasma and contains fibrinogen, von Willebrand factor, factor VIII, factor XIII and fibronectin.
A transfusion is a procedure that replaces the blood lost by a patient with the blood of a generous donor like you!
The following are examples of how blood donations are put to good use:
An Organ Transplant typically requires:
- 40 units of blood
- 30 units of platelets
- 25 units of fresh frozen plasma
- 20 units of cyroprecipitate
A Bone Marrow Transplant typically requires:
- 20 units of blood
- 120 units of platelets
Heart Surgery Typically requires:
A Burn Victim typically requires:
Someone injured in an Automobile Accident may need:
- 50 units or more of blood
As you can see, there are many lifesaving operations made possible by blood donors.
After you give your blood, while you’re snacking on cookies and showing off your arm wrap, your blood begins its journey to save lives! Through one donation, you can help save as many as three lives. No wonder RRVBC donors and volunteers feel so amazing. And, who ever thought saving lives could be this easy?
When the donor care specialist collects your unit of blood, samples are also collected in test tubes. Your blood is sent to the lab for processing, while your test tubes are sent to the testing facility. All donated blood will undergo this testing, regardless of how many times the donor has donated. While testing is being completed, the donated unit of blood is separated into components.
The platelets and plasma components are then placed into separate bags, with the red cells remaining in the original bag. The leukocytes (white blood cells) may be separated from the red blood cells by filtering, a procedure called leukoreduction. This process reduces the risk of post-transfusion infection for the patient receiving the red cell transfusion.
After the blood is tested, typed and processed, it is labeled by blood type and the day of donation. It is then stored for distribution to hospitals. Red cells can remain refrigerated for 42 days. Platelets are stored separately and must be used within five days of the donation. Plasma is often frozen for later use. Frozen plasma can be stored for one year.
56 Fascinating Blood Facts!
- Anyone in good health, at least 17 years old ( or 16 years old with parental consent – click here for consent form), and at least 110 pounds may donate whole blood every 56 days.
- 4.5 million American lives are saved each year by blood transfusions.
- 40,000 pints of donated blood are used each day in the United States.
- Someone needs blood every two seconds.
- One out of seven hospital patients needs blood.
- Three lives are saved by one pint of donated blood.
- Between 8-12 pints of blood are in the body of an average adult.
- One unit of blood is 500 mL, which is roughly the equivalent of one pint.
- Blood makes up about 7% of your body’s weight.
- A newborn baby has about one cup of blood in his body.
- The average transfusion patient receives 3 units of red blood cells.
- Blood fights infection and helps heal wounds.
- A, B, AB and O are the four main types of blood types. AB is the universal recipient, O negative is the universal donor.
- Blood centers often run short of types O and B blood.
- Shortages of all blood types happen during the summer and winter holidays.
- If all blood donors gave two to four times a year, it would help prevent blood shortages.
- You could donate 48 gallons of blood if you began at 17 years old and donate every 56 days until you reach 76 years old.
- Three gallons of blood is used every minute in the United States.
- There are four steps to donating blood: medical history, quick physical, donation and snacks.
- The actual blood donation usually takes less than ten minutes. The entire process from the time you sign in to the time you leave takes about an hour.
- Giving blood will not decrease your strength.
- You cannot get AIDS or any other infectious disease by donating blood.
- 16 tests (13 for infectious diseases) are performed on each unit of donated blood.
- Any company, community organization, place of worship or individual may contact their local community blood center to host a blood drive.
- People donate blood out of a sense of duty and community spirit, not to make money. They cannot be paid for their donation.
- Much of today’s medical care depends on a steady supply of blood from healthy volunteer donors.
- One unit of blood can be separated into red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma, platelets.
- Red blood cells carry oxygen to the body’s organs and tissue.
- There are one billion red blood cells in two to three drops of blood.
- Red blood cells live about 120 days in the circulatory system.
- Platelets support blood clotting and give those with leukemia and other cancers a chance to live.
- Apheresis (ay-fur-ee-sis) is a special kind of blood donation that allows a donor to give specific blood components, such as platelets.
- The shelf life of donated red blood cells is 42 days.
- The shelf life of donated platelets is five days.
- The shelf life of frozen plasma is one year.
- Plasma is a pale yellow mixture of water, proteins and salts.
- Plasma, which is 92% water, constitutes 55% of blood volume.
- Healthy bone marrow makes a constant supply of red cells, plasma and platelets.
- Car accident and blood loss victims can need transfusions of 50 pints or more of red blood cells.
- Bone marrow transplant patients can use up to 120 platelets and red blood cells from about 20 people.
- Severe burn victims can need 20 units of platelets during their treatment.
- Children being treated for cancer, premature infants and children having heart surgery need blood and platelets from donors of all types.
- Anemic patients need blood transfusions to increase their iron levels.
- Cancer, transplant and trauma patients, and patients undergoing open-heart surgery require platelet transfusions to survive.
- Sickle cell disease is an inherited disease that affects more than 80,000 people in the United States, 98% of whom are of African descent. Some patients with complications from severe sickle cell disease receive blood transfusions every month – up to four pints at a time.
- 500,000 Americans donated blood in the days following the September 11 attacks.
- Females receive 53% of blood transfusions; males receive 47%.
- 94% of blood donors are registered voters.
- 60% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood – only 5% do.
- 17% of non-donors cite “never thought about it” as the main reason for not giving, while 15% say they’re too busy. The #1 reason donors say they give is because they “want to help others.”
- After donating blood, you replace these red blood cells within four weeks.
- Granulocytes, a type of white blood cell, roll along blood vessel walls in search of bacteria to eat.
- White cells are the body’s primary defense against infection.
- There is no substitute for human blood.
- Since a pint is a pound, you lose a pound every time you donate blood.
- Blood donation. It’s a gift. Straight From The Heart.