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According to statistics provided on the American Red Cross' website, as of 2006 there were around 9.5 million blood donors in the U.S., even though less than 38 percent of the population is eligible to give blood. Blood cannot be manufactured and its only source is donors who participate in bloodmobiles such as ones run by the American Red Cross.
Pat Schwarzmueller, team supervisor for the American Red Cross bloodmobile operation that covers northwestern Pennsylvania, explained that only about five percent of the population actually donates blood on a regular basis.
"It's a very small [percentage], and there's a lot of reasons but a lot of it is convenience," Schwarzmueller said. "The number one reason people don't donate is convenience. If you don't come to them, they don't always come to you."
People can begin donating blood as young as age 16, though parental permission is needed. Beginning at age 17 teenagers no longer need parental permission.
"It also depends on your health how long you can donate, but there's no number to cut it off. Weight [is also a factor as] you have to be at least 110 pounds and in good health," Schwarzmueller said.
For more on this story see the Dec. 9 edition of The Daily Press.