When we think of saving a human life we think of heroic efforts, but there is one thing most Americans can do that will save lives and is relatively painless. Every two seconds someone in the United States needs a blood transfusion, according to the American Red Cross.

We Americans need to take the initiative, rise to the challenge and donate blood. The need for blood is always present and therefore, so is the need for donors. Blood is used in various ways across the country and is essential in treating illness and performing surgery. It is used to save lives in the ER, to give a child a chance at life through transfusion, and to give accident victims hope. Blood donation has changed and saved thousands of lives and it is a privilege to “give the gift of life.”

The process from blood donation to transfusion is extensive and complicated. For each pint of donated blood, many different people are involved. A blood drive requires professionals to manage the drive, to screen and assist the donors, to draw and test the blood. It is their coordinated efforts that insure the process is safe and that the blood goes from the donation table to the hospital or designated location. The blood is drawn and placed into cooling boxes at the blood drive. From there it is sent to be tested, screened, and cooled. It is then distributed to hospitals and clinics, where it is used in a variety of ways.

According to the American Red Cross (2002), “Every day 32,000 pints of blood are used, and without those pints 4.5 million people would die each year without having these life changing transfusions.”

Donated blood is used in bone marrow transplants, simple transfusions, trauma cases, surgical procedures and many regular clinical uses. In the end, blood donation is the key to saving lives. Donors come from all walks of life, but only 5% of the United State population donates blood each year. The American population often ignores the call to donate blood when all it would take is to save a life is 30 minutes out of a busy schedule These statistics need to change because as the population rises more donors will be needed.

State law regulates blood donation. In Washington State teenagers who are 16 and 17 can donate with parental consent. Think about becoming a donor.