This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle’s health section on April 24, 2013.
Three thousand miles away and only a few hours after bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, blood donors started streaming into Stanford Blood Center locations. Others posted on the organization’s Facebook wall:
“I’m about due to give blood. Are you mobbed at the Mountain View location? If you’ve got a chair free, I’ll come in tonight.”
“I can come too. [It] is my time too donate too, [I] am a volunteer blood donor with you guys, every 55 days.”
Although the Boston area had enough of its own blood donations to meet the need last week, Stephanie Millian, national spokeswoman for the American Red Cross, said blood donations and interest in hosting blood drives usually spike nationwide after a tragedy. Superstorm Sandy, the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., were other recent events that filled the chairs at blood banks, Millian said in an e-mail.
Millian added that tragedies like the Boston bombings can motivate people to become regular blood donors in their own communities. Blood can be moved nationwide in a crisis, she wrote “but it’s the blood on the shelves that saves lives during an emergency situation.”
Here are the numbers:
In the week following the Sept. 11 attacks, blood donation in the United States more than doubled compared with the week before the attacks. Donations were still 1.4 times as great one month later, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The number of blood pints that the Bay Area chapter of the American Red Cross needs to collect in an average week to meet the needs of the 28 Northern California hospitals it supplies. The Stanford Blood Center, which is independent of the Red Cross, supplies blood to seven hospitals.
The number of pints of blood the American Red Cross supplied to Boston hospitals in the two days after the marathon bombings.
Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood.