Blood :: U of M study finds national blood donor pool significantly smaller than previously thought

University of Minnesota research indicates the number of individuals eligible to donate blood in the United States, is much smaller than previously thought. In fact, it is estimated that only 37 percent of the population is currently eligible to donate blood.

?The conventional method of calculating eligible donors indicates that there are approximately 177 million eligible donors in the U. S. population,? said Jeffrey McCullough, M.D., professor in the Medical School?s Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology. ?Our study indicates that only 111 million individuals in the United States are eligible to donate blood.?

The conventional method, which calculates the number of potential donors using only age criteria, overestimates the national pool of eligible blood donors by 59 percent. The University of Minnesota study considers the other exclusionary factors used by the American Association of Blood Banks, such as participation in high-risk behavior, disease exposure, and presence of chronic diseases, all of which are factors known to cause donor deferrals. These additional exclusionary factors have been put in place to ensure donor and recipient safety. But as University of Minnesota researchers discovered, they also significantly decrease the eligible donor pool.

“We are very surprised at the magnitude of these findings,? said William Riley, Ph.D., associate professor in the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. ?There are chronic blood shortages in many parts of the country and this study provides an important insight into why blood donation rates are so low in some communities,” Riley said.