Press Kit: Stanford Blood Center Facts

Service to the Community

Stanford Blood Center supplies more than 55,000 units of blood and blood components a year to seven local hospitals to help an estimated 117,000 patients.

Stanford Blood Center must collect 200 pints of blood a day to meet the need of area patients.

Stanford Blood Center is a private, nonprofit community agency that was established in 1978 and has been serving the Bay Area for 30 years. A unique feature of the Stanford Blood Center is its integration with research programs, which concentrate on the causes, prevention and treatment of blood diseases and blood-borne disorders. The research benefits patients by providing direct and immediate application of important medical advances made by Stanford scientists and their colleagues.

Service Credentials

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration federally registers Stanford Blood Center. Stanford Blood Center is inspected and accredited by the AABB and the State of California, and is as a member of Blood Centers of America, Blood Centers of California and the California Blood Bank Society.


Stanford Blood Center has blood donation centers located in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Mountain View. To schedule an appointment for one of our centers, call 888-723-7831. For information on our mobile donation sites, visit our donor website at and enter your zip code under “Make an Appointment at a Mobile Blood Drive.”

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Fast Facts

  • Blood makes up about 7 percent of your body's weight.
  • An adult of average weight has about 10 to 12 pints of blood.
  • A newborn baby has approximately one cup of blood in his/her body.
  • Sixty percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, however, only five percent do.
  • Red blood cells transport oxygen from your lungs to all of your body tissues.
  • There are four main blood types: A, B, AB and O.
  • More than 10 tests, nine of which are for infectious diseases, are performed on each unit of donated blood.
  • Just one pint of donated blood can help save the lives of several people.
  • One pint of blood can be separated into several components (Red Blood Cells, White Blood Cells, Plasma, Platelets and Cryoprecipitate).
  • Red Blood Cells carry oxygen to the body's organs and tissues.
  • Platelets help blood to clot and give those with leukemia and other cancers a chance to live.
  • There are about one billion Red Blood Cells in two to three drops of blood.
  • Red Blood Cells, White Blood Cells, and Platelets are made in the body's bone marrow.
  • Red Blood Cells live about 120 days in the circulatory system.
  • Red Blood Cells must be used within 42 days.
  • Platelets must be used within five days.
  • Plasma can be frozen and used for up to one year.
  • Healthy bone marrow makes a constant supply of Red Blood Cells, Plasma, and Platelets.
  • Some anemic patients require blood transfusions to increase their red blood cell levels.
  • People who have been in car accidents and have suffered massive blood loss may require transfusions of 50 pints or more of Red Blood Cells
  • Plasma is a pale yellow mixture of water, proteins, and salts.
  • Plasma, which is 90 percent water, constitutes 55 percent of blood volume.
  • Plasma helps maintain blood pressure, carries blood cells, nutrients, enzymes, and hormones, and supplies critical proteins for blood clotting and immunity
  • Platelets are small blood cells that help control bleeding.
  • Cancer, transplant, trauma, and open-heart surgery patients require Platelet transfusions to control their bleeding.
  • White Blood Cells are the body's primary defense against infection.
  • There is no substitute for human blood.
  • Much of today's medical care depends on a steady supply of blood from healthy donors.
  • Volunteers provide nearly all of the nation's blood supply for transfusion.
  • Every three seconds someone needs blood.
  • Approximately 32,000 pints of blood are used each day in the United States.
  • Blood centers often run short of type O and B blood.
  • Shortages of all types of blood often occur during the summer and winter holidays.
  • If all blood donors gave at least twice a year, it would greatly strengthen the nation's blood supply.
  • Someone who is in good health, is at least 17 years old, and weighs at least 110 pounds may donate blood every 56 days.
  • Blood donation takes four steps: medical history, quick physical, donation, and snacks.
  • The actual blood collection takes approximately 10-20 minutes. The entire process, from when you sign in to the time you leave, takes about 45 minutes to one hour.
  • Giving blood will not decrease your strength.
  • Any company, community organization, place of worship, or individual may contact their local blood centers to host blood drives.
  • Apheresis is a special kind of blood donation that allows a donor to give specific blood components, such as Platelets.
  • You cannot get AIDS or any other blood disease by donating blood.
  • A complex heart surgery may uses as much as six pints of Red Blood Cells and six pints of Platelets.
  • A liver transplant patient may use as much as 40 pints of Red Blood Cells, 30 pints of Platelets, 20 bags of Cryoprecipitate, and 25 pints of Fresh Frozen Plasma.
  • Children being treated for cancer, premature infants, and children having heart surgery need blood and Platelets from donors of all types.
  • If you began donating blood at age 17 and donated every 56 days until you reached 76, you would have donated 48 gallons of blood.
  • One out of every 10 people entering a hospital needs blood.
  • The average Red Blood Cell transfusion is 3.4 pints.
  • Females receive 53 percent of blood transfused; males receive 47 percent.

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Facts About Blood And Blood Banking

How much blood is donated each year? How much blood is transfused each year?*

About 12.6 million units (including approximately 643,000 autologous donations) of Whole Blood are donated in the United States each year by approximately eight million volunteer blood donors. These units are transfused to about four million patients per year.

Typically, each donated unit of blood, referred to as Whole Blood, is separated into multiple components, such as Red Blood Cells, Plasma, and Platelets. Each component is generally transfused to a different individual, each with different needs.

The need for blood is great--on any given day, approximately 32,000 units of Red Blood Cells are needed. Accident victims, people undergoing surgery, and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer, or other diseases, such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia, all utilize blood. More than 23 million units of blood components are transfused every year.

Who donates blood?

Less than 5 percent of healthy Americans eligible to donate blood, actually donate each year. According to studies, the average donor is a college-educated white male, between the ages of 30 and 50, who is married and has an above-average income. However, a broad cross-section of the population donates every day. Furthermore, these “average” statistics are changing, and women and minority groups are volunteering to donate in increasing numbers. While persons 65 years and older compose 13 percent of the population, they use 25 percent of all blood units transfused. Using current screening and donation procedures, a growing number of blood banks have found blood donation by seniors to be safe and practical.

Patients scheduled for surgery may be eligible to donate blood for themselves, a process known as autologous blood donation. In the weeks before non-emergency surgery, an autologous donor may be able to donate blood that will be stored until the surgical procedure.

Where is blood donated?

There are many places where blood donations can be made. Bloodmobiles (mobile blood drives on specially constructed buses) travel to high schools, colleges, churches, and community organizations. People can also donate at community blood centers and hospital-based donor centers. Many people donate at blood drives at their places of work. Community blood centers collect approximately 88 percent of the nation's blood, and hospital-based donor centers account for the other 12 percent.

What are the criteria for blood donation?

To be eligible to donate blood, a person must generally be between the ages of 17 and 74; be in good health; and weigh at least 110 pounds. A person over 74 can bring a letter from their physician stating that they may donate. All donors must pass the physical and health history examinations given prior to donation.

Nearly all blood used for transfusion in the United States is drawn from volunteer donors. The donor's body replenishes the fluid lost from donation in 24 hours. It may take up to two months to replace the lost Red Blood Cells. Whole blood can be donated once every eight weeks.

What is the most common blood type?

The approximate distribution of blood types in the US population is as follows. Distribution may be different for specific racial and ethnic groups:

O Rh-positive 38 percent
B Rh-positive 9 percent
O Rh-negative 7 percent
A Rh-positive 34 percent
A Rh-negative 6 percent
AB Rh-negative 1 percent


In an emergency, anyone can receive type O Red Blood Cells, and type AB individuals can receive Red Blood Cells of any ABO type. Therefore, people with type O blood are known as “universal donors” and those with type AB blood are known as “universal recipients.” In addition, AB Plasma donors can give to all blood types.

What tests are performed on donated blood?

After blood is drawn, it is tested for ABO group (blood type) and Rh type (positive or negative), as well as for any unexpected Red Blood Cell antibodies that may cause problems in the recipient. Screening tests also are performed for evidence of donor infection, such as hepatitis viruses B and C, human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) 1 and 2, human T-lymphotropic viruses (HTLV) I and II, and syphilis. The specific tests performed are listed below:

  • Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)
  • Hepatitis B core antibody (anti-HBc)
  • Hepatitis C virus antibody (anti-HCV)
  • HIV-1 and HIV-2 antibody (anti-HIV-1 and anti-HIV-2)
  • HIV p24 antigen
  • HTLV-I and HTLV-II antibody (anti-HTLV-I and anti-HTLV-II)
  • Serologic test for syphilis
  • Nucleic Acid Amplification Testing (NAT) for HCV and HIV

Note: NAT is still a research test but many blood collection organizations have implemented testing under the FDA's Investigational New Drug (IND) application process.

When are blood donors needed most?

While blood donors are needed throughout the year, they are most needed during holidays and in the summer. It is during these times that the number of donations declines while the demand continues or even increases. While a given individual may be unable to donate, he or she may be able to recruit a suitable donor. Relatives and friends of a patient requiring a blood transfusion may wish to help their loved one. Donating blood to replenish the units that were needed is one of the best gifts one can give.

*Data provided by the National Blood Data Resource Center for 1997.

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