Everything you need to know about donating blood during Red Cross Month

Every president since FDR has declared March as Red Cross Month

The American Red Cross is a vital organization and one of the chief advocates of coordinating blood donation transfers to hundreds of medical centers annually.

Since 1943, March has always been designated as Red Cross Month after President Franklin D. Roosevelt made the proclamation at the height of the U.S. involvement in World War II. Every president has followed in Roosevelt's footsteps as the organization works to promote safe and healthy blood donations.

"We salute all of our volunteers and employees who make a difference in their communities by donating blood or platelets; volunteering to help people affected by a disaster; taking a first aid or CPR class to help in an emergency; or providing comfort to a member of the military, a veteran or their family," the American Red Cross said in a public statement.


The American Red Cross is responsible for approximately 40% of all voluntary blood donations and components every year.

People in line waiting to donate blood

The American Red Cross has used March to help promote blood donations every year for more than seven decades. (Steve Grayson / WireImage)

When was the Red Cross founded? 

The American Red Cross was founded more than 140 years ago on May 21, 1881, in Washington, D.C., by Clara Barton, a nurse who treated soldiers during the American Civil War, and a close group of associates in the medical field. 

The organization claims that Barton first became aware of the global Red Cross network during a European trip. During this time, she was inspired to start the Red Cross and advocate for the U.S. to ratify the Geneva Convention.

The Red Cross has a variety of donation requirements based on the donation plan chosen by an individual.

Barton led the organization for more than two decades and helped the Red Cross coordinate its first overseas disaster relief effort in the Spanish-American War in 1898. During this conflict, the Red Cross helped establish its creditability with other European powers as a trustworthy medical service provider in times of war and peace.

Moreover, the organization formally received its first congressional charter in 1900 and its second five years later, shortly after Barton resigned.

What are the blood donation requirements?

The Red Cross has a variety of donation requirements based on the donation plan chosen by an individual. For example, the Whole Blood Donation plan has a frequency requirement of every 56 days or up to six times annually. 

In addition, donators must not feel ill, must be at least 16 years old in most U.S. states, and weigh at least 110 pounds. 


The Power Red Donation plan allows individuals who are healthy to donate every 112 days and up to three times during the year. 

However, there are different requirements for men and women based on age, height and weight. Male donors must be at least 17 years old, at least 5 feet 1 inch tall and weigh at least 130 pounds. Female donors who are least 19 years old, at least 5 feet 5 inches tall and weigh at least 150 pounds may donate blood.

man donates blood

The Red Cross has standards for blood donations based on age, height, weight and blood type. (iStock)

Meanwhile, healthy Platelet Donators can give blood every seven days with a maximum of 24 visits yearly. These individuals must also be at least 17 years old in most states and weigh at least 110 pounds. 

The AB Elite Plasma donation category allows individuals to give blood every 28 days up to 13 times a year who are healthy and have type AB blood.

How much blood is donated during Red Cross Month?

Every year, more than 6.8 million across the country donate blood and help contribute to people in need, with 13.6 million units of whole blood and red blood cells collected yearly. However, the American Red Cross has not provided the exact statistics for the amount of blood collected during their busiest time of year in March.


On average, an individual who donates blood gives approximately one pint, with the average human body containing about 10 to 11 pints of blood. 

Medical experts with the Red Cross test the blood, separate it into components and send it to local hospitals and medical centers.