Far fewer blood donors available than expected

It looks like health administrators have had far too rosy a view of how much blood is available to help injured or surgical patients. A new study suggests current estimates of the population eligible to donate blood may be off by a whopping one-third.

According to the study, published in the journal Transfusion, existing estimates projected that there were about 177 million eligible donors within the population of the U.S.  New figures, however, suggest 66 million people are actually eligible, if you screen out those who have traveled, are sick, have gotten a recent tattoo or are on medication, as well as other factors. And unfortunately, despite these problems, artificial blood doesn't cut it as a substitute as of yet.
Given these concerns, "it will be incumbent upon blood collection organizations to become more creative in their approaches to potential donors," said Jeffrey McCullough, a blood banking expert and professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

To learn more about the problem:
- read this United Press International piece
- and this report from CBS News.