New study shows less than 5% of eligible blood donors actually give

December 23, 2019

More than 60% of people in the United States can give blood, yet less than 5% of them make at least one donation a year, according to a new study.

The report in the journal Transfusion revisited research done in 2007 into the number of eligible donors, and the main finding was an increased number of potential donors. That older report showed a statistic frequently used by blood centers: approximately 40% of the population is eligible to give blood, but 10% of those who were eligible actually donate.

“It’s heartening to see that the total pool of eligible blood donors has increased,” said Dr. Rachel Beddard, Chief Medical Officer of BioBridge Global. “The fact that the percent of eligible donors that actually give is lower means we need to find innovative ways to reach out to donors and engage them to donate.”

Dr. Samantha Gomez Ngamsuntikul, Associate Medical Director at BioBridge Global, said the report also highlighted another need for blood centers.

“We need our current donors to become spokespeople for their friends, family members and coworkers to also become donors in order to broaden our donor base,” she said.

The study noted that while the number of blood transfusions has dropped since 2011, the number of donations has declined at even faster rate.

The total U.S. population eligible to give blood is 204.9 million, which is 62.6% of all Americans. Less than 9 million people made at least one blood donation in 2017, representing just 4.8% of eligible donors, according to AABB statistics.

“Many people who can donate blood are not doing so,” the authors wrote. “This is likely due to different social mores of different demographic groups and possibly elimination of high-cost blood collection operations.”

There was also a significant difference in donation rates among different age groups, the study said:


Gen Z

Gen Y1


Gen X

Baby Boomers







% of population






% of donors








“This demographic change is concerning because the individuals who donate at the highest rate are not the largest age group and are at higher risk of being diagnosed with conditions that may exclude them from donating blood,” the authors noted.

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