As demographic shifts occur in our society, so do long standing traditions. The “Greatest Generation,” those who lived through WWII and the Great Depression, embraced principles such as self-sacrifice, patriotism, and blood donation as their civic responsibility.
The Baby Boomer generation maintained many of these traditions, but not as strongly as their forefathers. Economic prosperity certainly played a role. The well-being of their fellow man was still very important, however, and for the most part, they still viewed blood donation as an important civic duty.
Today, the younger generations are gradually starting to carry the mantle. Yet, their outlook on life is somewhat different. The commitment to community service is still there, but mostly on “their” terms. The act of volunteer blood donation has become somewhat of a second thought. Consequently, the techniques used to recruit blood donors have changed. Social media, text messaging and other forms of electronic communication have fundamentally changed the way in which blood centers spread the word. Fading are the days of phone calls, post card reminders, public service announcements, newspapers advertisements, and radio or television spots during the local news. The messaging today is completely different.
Added to these challenges are the increase in FDA-mandated donor eligibility requirements. Some people are hesitant to donate, unsure if their current health status, medication regimen, or travel history will qualify.
The transfusion of blood and/or blood components takes place every two seconds in the U.S. Without “blood on the shelves,” a hospital’s ability to address the clinical needs of their patients may be compromised. As such, a robust supply of blood, and the system to collect, process, and distribute blood is extremely important.