Celebrating Female Blood Donors

Today is International Women’s Day, and in recognition I would like to share with you a few statistics as to why female blood donors are incredible!

In 2003, the American Red Cross published a scientific study that concluded that women are ‘the key to an adequate blood supply’.

-They found that within 17-year old first time donors, women represented 56% of donors presenting.
-Through the age of 29 years old, women represented 57% of donors presenting (31% more than men!).
-This is despite the fact that women generally have about a liter less blood (4 liters vs. 5), and a much smaller iron storage (300 mg versus a male’s 1000 mg average).

However, largely because of the smaller blood volume, women are much more likely to be deferred from donation. This can be a bit discouraging, but there are some easy steps to prepare yourself for a donation. Most importantly, make sure you are hydrated and have had breakfast the day of your donation, and if you have had issues with iron you can try to eat iron-rich foods the week before your donation. I encourage my female friends to stay strong and keep trying whenever they are deferred. Because the American Red Cross values female donors and wants them to have a positive donation experience, additional weight/height requirements were introduced last fall for donors 18 years old and under, mainly applicable for women under 5’6″. I’ve also seen a great many discouraged female donors turn to volunteering with Blood Services, a majority of which are women as well!

I have seen women make some incredible strives to donate, including a friend who travelled 60 miles to the nearest donation site that day after she heard blood was needed on the radio. I’ve seen countless men be introduced to blood donation thanks to a supportive significant woman in their life. I’ve also had the honor of meeting several women who don’t even question changing up their diet the week before a donation; they are willing to do what it takes to show their support in helping save lives. So today, we salute you!

Women out there: feel free to share why you donate in the comments section below!

… and as for the fellow guys out there, let this be a challenge for us to step up our game…

Study: Newman, Bruce H. “Adjusting our management of female blood donors: the key to an adequate blood supply.” Transfusion, Apr2004, Vol. 44 Issue 4, p591-596, 6p
Photo: American Red Cross


  • Yay! Women rock!

    I give blood because I worked in a hospital for 7 years and know how much of a difference blood makes. There's no substitute.

    And, of course, who doesn't like being sexy?

    Robin, what about you?

  • Great post, Scott! As both a woman and a vegetarian, I totally know what it's like to have to monitor your iron levels. I haven't been deferred for it yet, but I've been borderline a few times. Just one more reason to eat my greens! 🙂

  • Yay girl power…? I'm not a lady, but I had to point out that the girl in this blog photo is an AmeriCorps member from last year! ::thumbs up::

  • Really Nate? The picture is a promo pic I requested last year with one of the Blood Drive Association student leaders at Oregon State.
    Thanks Robin and Lise! It definitely can be hard for women and donating, whom are the most likely to start donating, and most likely not to continue donating due to various issues. Coming under in that iron test can be very disconcerning since you want an answer as to 'why', and don't want to hear anything is 'wrong' (even though it can be natural and normal for women to dip below the donation standards).

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