Special Report

States Where It’s Easiest (and Most Difficult) to Donate Blood

Hristina Byrnes

The United States faces a chronic blood shortage. While about 37% of the population is eligible to donate blood, only less than 10% do. The Red Cross periodically issues urgent calls for blood donors.

Every day, about 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed in the U.S., and every two seconds someone, somewhere in the country, needs blood. Around 4.5 million Americans would die every year if blood wasn’t available for life-saving transfusions.

24/7 Tempo reviewed the number of active blood donation centers registered on the Food and Drug Administration’s website in each state to identify the states where it’s easier to donate blood.

More populous states tend to have more blood donation centers — yet not necessarily enough facilities for the population. For example, California has 200 locations, the third most locations of all states, but considering the state’s largest population, it only has about five facilities per 1 million people, one of the worst concentrations. Similarly, Texas, Illinois, and New York, which are among the states with the most facilities in the country, don’t even make the top 20 of states where it’s easier to donate blood when ranked on a per capita basis.

One unit of blood is approximately 525 ml, or about 1 pint, and just 1 pint is enough to save as many as three lives. Hospitals are often in short supply of type O blood — the universal red cell donor can be given to people with all other blood types, which is why it’s used in emergencies.

Most people are eligible to donate blood, but a few restrictions apply: A person needs to weigh at least 110 pounds, be in generally good health, and be at least 16 years old in most states. Certain conditions can also disqualify potential donors. These include having had hepatitis B or C, being HIV positive, having been in Europe for a total of five years after 1980, and having traveled in the past year to places where some diseases are endemic.

Donating blood may be a good way not only to help someone else, but also to check one’s own health. All donated blood is tested for certain serious infections such as HIV and bacterial contamination. A blood test, of course, can reveal a lot more — here are 50 dangerous conditions testing your blood can detect.

Click here for the states where it’s easiest and most difficult to donate blood.

Methodology

To determine the states where it is easiest to donate blood, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the number of active blood donation centers registered on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website in each state. Most blood centers rely heavily on mobile drives in addition to their fixed sites, so the geographic reach within their states is significantly higher. State population figures come from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 estimates of the resident population.