Data and statistics

  • 90% of people who are eligible to donate blood are not currently doing so.
  • Blood donations have a short shelf-life, so regular donors are essential to secure a constant supply.
  • Due to a shortage of blood and ageing populations, the age limits for blood donation acceptability are becoming increasingly flexible. The standard age limits for blood donation are 18–65 years of age, but in some European countries this is 17–70. In some places outside Europe, the lower and higher limits go from 15 with parental consent to over 70 years of age.
  • Regular blood donors are individuals donating at least twice a year, on a regular basis. They are demonstrated to be the source of safest blood donations. They have regular health checks on the occasion of each donation, and a healthy life style.
  • The prevalence of markers for blood borne infections in blood donations can vary from 0.001% to 7.5%, related to the category of blood donors. Blood which is found to be infected, for example with hepatitis B or C or HIV, is disposed of and not used for transfusions.
  • Statistics show that one donated unit of whole blood can save up to 3 lives, through separation and use of its components.
  • Achieving 100% voluntary, non-remunerated blood donation has been the most important step in advancing blood safety in the last 50 years.[1]
  • 30 countries in the European Region have achieved more than 90% voluntary, non-remunerated donation; 27 of them have achieved 99–100%.[2]
  • Since the launch of the South-eastern Europe (SEE) Health Network blood safety project in 2004, the volume of voluntary, non-remunerated blood donations in Albania quintupled.[3]
  • Voluntary, non-remunerated blood donations in the Republic of Moldova have increased from 1% of total blood donations in 2004 to 18% in 2008.[4]
  • The average number of donations across the European Region ranges from 6 to 67.6 per 1000 inhabitants, with Demark reporting the highest blood donation rate.[5]
  • To be self-sufficient in national blood supplies, a country is estimated to need to maintain a minimum average of 20–25 donors per 1000 inhabitants. National needs vary depending on the local patterns of disease, and the technologies available to address them.
  • Giving blood regularly has itself been ascribed potential health benefits in coronary artery disease and oxygen-free radical chemistry. Regular blood donation is a life saving treatment for hereditary haemocromatosis and polycitemia vera.

[1] Domen RE et al. An analysis of autologous blood donor motivational factors, “Vox Sang”, 1995, 69(2):110–113; Davey RJ. Recruiting blood donors: challenges and opportunities, “Transfusion”, 2004, 44(4): 597–600.

[2] WHO Global Database on Blood Safety, 2011.

[3] SEE blood safety project component 2, WHO/Europe, 2009.

[4] Ibid.

[5] WHO Global Database on Blood Safety, 2011.