Hematology: The Study of Blood

Blood transports oxygen to our lungs and tissues, carries antibodies to fight infections, and helps to filter toxins from our bodies. It’s essential—not only to our individual health and well-being—but to our entire healthcare system. The study of blood is called Hematology and it focuses on blood’s biological properties, but also its role in transfusion medicine.

With blood donations slowly decreasing in recent years, Hematology is becoming an even more critical area of study as society looks for new ways to advance blood science. Vitalant Foundation is dedicated to saving lives through the advancement of blood research.

By The Numbers

Every 2 Seconds

Someone in the U.S. requires a blood transfusion 1

36,000 pints of blood

are used for blood transfusions every day in this country 2

4.5 Million PEOPLE

need a blood transfusion each year in the U.S. 3

A Majority of the U.S. population

is eligible to donate blood. Less than 3% of that population donate on a regular basis 3

Up to 3 lives

The Number of lives that can be saved from one single blood donation 2

8-12 pints

The amount of blood the average person has in their body 4

42 Days

The shelf life of A unit of blood 5

5 Days

The shelf life of A unit of platelets 5

Units of Blood

REQUIRED FOR The average transfusion patient

Units of Blood

Required for heart surgery

Units of Blood

Can be required for trauma victims 6

The Components of Blood

Blood is made up of four different components:

red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma

Each of these parts plays a specific role in transfusion medicine. Red blood cells contain a protein called hemoglobin which allows them to transport oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. White blood cells fight infections and diseases. Platelets are the cells that create clotting when a person bleeds from a cut or injury, while plasma, the liquid portion of the blood, carries proteins and different types of blood cells around the body. New blood cells are made daily within the bone marrow in your body.7

Just as there are different components that make up blood, there are also eight different types of blood:

The most common type, O+ is found within 37.5% of the population and can be used in transfusions with any individual who has a positive blood type.

A+ is the second most common type found in 35.5% of the population.

The least common, AB-, makes up 0.6% of the population, while the universal donor O- is only found in 6.6% of the population. 8

This makes blood collection and distribution within our healthcare system more challenging and why we need constant blood donations.

[1] https://stanfordbloodcenter.org/donate-blood/blood-donation-facts/
[2] https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/how-to-donate/how-blood-donations-help/blood-needs-blood-supply.html
[3] http://givingblood.org/about-blood/blood-facts.aspx
[4] https://www.giveapint.org/ufaqs/how-many-pints-of-blood-are-in-the-human-body/
[5] https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/how-to-donate/types-of-blood-donations/blood-components.html
[6] https://www.ncbb.org/donate-blood/about-blood/expert-q/blood-facts/
[7] https://www.fairview.org/sitecore/content/Fairview/Home/Patient-Education/Articles/English/u/n/d/e/r/Understanding_Blood_and_Blood_Components_40309
[8] https://www.scbb.org/donor-information/right-type-right-time.html

If you can’t donate blood, you can still make a financial contribution and save a life.

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