Researchers are trying to find new ways to get younger people to donate blood as the pandemic pushes the country's blood supply to critically low levels.
The donor pool is aging and younger people aren't stepping up to fill the gaps.
For decades, the supply has relied on donors being motivated simply to help others.
A recent study looked at the idea of paying people to give blood, something already being done for plasma donations, but not for whole blood. The study found about 80% of college age people would be willing to give blood if they were paid.
“A concern might be that payment leads people to be externally motivated to give blood, that they're doing it for the money,” said Christopher France, a psychology professor at Ohio University. “But people are by and large doing this at the beginning because they're also feeling very altruistic. The reality is, we can hold two ideas in our head at the same time. We can say, ‘oh it's nice to get paid for this,’ but we also recognize that we're doing something for our fellow human beings.”
France says one way to address that concern is to offer donors options on what to do with the payment. They could keep it or donate it to charity.
There's also concerns over getting donors to keep coming back. Payment and reducing fears could help with that.
“Not only does reducing fear reduce the risk of feeling faint while they give blood, so they feel better if they have their fear reduced, but it also increases their odds of coming back to give blood again,” said France.
In March, the surgeon general made a national plea for more blood donations.
Demographic data from a major Texas center suggests the emergency appeal did not help close the age gap.