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So much for young blood, millennials give the least

Millennials, the largest generation, donate the least amount of blood.

Millennials sure do get blamed for a lot. And here's one more thing: According to a new national poll, millennials are the largest generation in the country, but they only account for 20 percent of all blood donations.

KUOW's Kim Malcolm talks with Kyle Boynton of Seattle-based Bloodworks Northwest that commissioned the poll.

Interview highlights

So why aren't young people donating as much blood as Gen X-ers or Baby Boomers?

One thing that we find with millennials is that whenever there's a tragedy they always come out in droves. You know, with 501 Amtrak derailment this last December we saw a large amount come through, some for the first time, some who hadn't donated since college or high school. So we definitely find that they are willing to come out, it's just a matter of finding those right messages and finding ways to motivate them.

What is it that you're trying to educate people about? What is it that they don't get about blood donating?

I think in terms of millennials, a lot of them, at least in my experience as a mobile recruiter, there's this idea that you can donate once or twice a year. You can donate up to six times a year. So one thing we noticed out of this study is in the 1940s to the 1970s, that generation came up into the age of transfusions being a newer phenomenon of supporting local blood banks and being a regular donor.

And with millennials and younger generations, there's really not that piece and so we want to really drive the fact that this is an ongoing need. And it's really important to have a fully stocked blood supply when there is an event that happens, so we can jump on that and we can support those patients.

You are in this millennial age group. So what is it about blood donating that has struck a chord for you?

Donating blood for me as a millennial is a really easy way to help people. You know, with every donation that I give, I know that I can help up to three people in our community and that always resonated with me. I can roll up a sleeve and endure the fear of a needle for five to ten minutes and that's going to be a huge impact in somebody's life.

Year started with KUOW: 2013
Year started with KUOW: 2015