Reasons to Consider Becoming a Blood Donor

By Francis Mercado, MD

The need for blood donations is constant as it contributes to lifesaving care for patients across the country. But only a small percentage of age-eligible individuals donate annually, which can lead to an imbalance between supply and demand.

In January 2022, the American Red Cross declared a national blood crisis, calling this the worst shortage the U.S. has faced in over a decade. This has significantly impacted patient care and providers have been forced to make difficult decisions around blood allocation.

We urge everyone to consider becoming a donor to help combat this shortage and have provided a few benefits of giving blood to help you make an informed decision.

You get access to a free health screening

Upon volunteering to give blood, you will undergo a health screening to ensure you’re fit for donating. This screening involves measuring your vitals, like blood pressure and heart rate, to uncover any potential issues that could hinder you from donating blood. The Red Cross is also screening all donations for COVID-19 antibodies.

You might discover new health issues

Insight into your overall bill of health does not stop at just the initial screening. If eligible, your blood sample will then be sent to a lab to undergo further testing. These additional screenings include:

If the lab technician detects anything awry, you will be notified and can then seek the proper care. This is especially beneficial if you are someone that does not have access to routine blood testing with a primary care physician.

It may reduce your risk of unhealthy iron stores

Hemochromatosis is a hereditary condition where your body absorbs a higher volume of iron from food you eat, resulting in an iron overload. Though rare (200,000 cases in the U.S. annually), individuals affected typically are not even aware they have it. Because donating involves the removal of red blood cells, giving regularly can reduce harmful levels of iron and mitigate risk for patients with hemochromatosis.

You’re saving lives

Above all, each pint donated supports critical care for patients in need of blood. You could be helping a patient survive a risky surgery or aiding a patient that has lost a high volume of blood due to a traumatic injury. No matter the end source, your donation is guaranteed to make a difference.

Considering becoming a blood donor is more important than ever before and we encourage you to donate. For more information, visit https://www.redcrossblood.org/.

If you need medical attention upon blood analysis, find a Virginia Mason Franciscan Health provider on our website here.


Dr. Francis Mercado is the associate chief medical officer of primary care for Virginia Mason Franciscan Health.