Every three seconds, someone needs a blood transfusion. Sixty-percent of the population is eligible to donate, but only five percent actually do.
It's the gift that keeps on giving and January is National Blood Donor month...it's also something that takes minutes, yet millions of Americans don't donate blood.
Sisters Shannon and Allison Taylor are familiar faces at their local blood center. Ever since they were 18, they've been donating blood every two months.
Shannon considers herself lucky to donate; "I just sit still for a little bit and then if I'm lucky, they can use what I give to help somebody that has leukemia or has been in an accident and needs my blood."
Allison says it's a tradition their parents started decades ago. "It's something that when we were kids, they would bring us with them so we were familiar with the process, you know, we knew it wasn't anything to be afraid of."
The Taylor sisters are the exception. A new study finds only one in five people say they plan to donate blood in the next year.
Experts say inaccurate perceptions about blood donation is partly to blame. Another concern among the blood banking community is the age of its long-time donors.
Heather Parsons with one blood and tissue center says most of their donors are older, and that is a concern. "The majority of our long time donors are in the 50 to 80 age range. We recognize that as something to be really concerned with because as that group ages, we are facing a situation one day where they will no longer be able to give."
Those in the blood banking community want to make blood donation a way of life, like recycling. They hope that targeting young adults will promote life-long blood donation.
The Taylor sisters have no plans of stopping any time soon.
Blood transfusions are life-saving treatments for 4.5 million Americans each year.
To give the perfect gift, you must be healthy, at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and not have donated blood in the last 8 weeks.