Donating blood is has been considered an important civic duty since WWII when blood transfusions began to become a common procedure. However, due to a lack of marketing, an aging donor pool, and public awareness, there is now a blood shortage throughout the United States. The reason for this shortage? Millennials aren’t donating blood.
So why aren’t the younger set donating blood? There are a few reasons.
One of the reasons millennials don’t donate blood as often is because of the restrictions around blood donation. For LGBT people, the ban is often outright. Although LGBT millennials can donate if they are celibate for one year, anyone young, LGBT and with an active sex life will be restricted from donating. For those young folks who travel, exposure to Zika virus or Malaria will also restrict them from donating.
Donating blood can be time-consuming. A trip to donate blood can take up to 2 hours and usually takes place during working hours unless there are weekend hours or a specific blood donation drive. For older Americans, they might have done it on an extended lunch break but Millennials work in a world where lunch is only 30 minutes long and often isn’t taken as a break at all to start with. Many younger workers work odd shifts or work on weekends which often makes donating blood simply too much trouble.
Unlike Boomers and Xers, Millennials were not messaged to be constantly donating blood like their older cohorts. It is no longer viewed as a civic duty and education on the importance has been lacking. To combat this, blood banks are now starting to digitize and find new millennial donors via social media and other online channels where they are likely to engage and act.
If you are younger and have never donated blood, take the time to look for your local blood donation center and find out if you can donate and if you can, then please do so! The reality is that communities throughout the country rely on fresh and local blood supply. Blood does not last long and cannot be transported so the best way for blood to be used is local. Waiting for a natural disaster is not good either as much of that blood ends up being discarded due to oversupply. However, a regular donation is ideal to keep hospitals well-stocked when the need arises.