BACKGROUND: The population structure in most European countries is currently changing with a shift from younger to older age groups. This study analyzed how demography will determine future blood demand and supply in a well-characterized region.
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: The population of the main catchment area of the University Hospital Greifswald (415,000 inhabitants) was projected to the year 2015 based on 1-year age groups provided by the population registry, based on 2002 rates assuming stable death rates and migration patterns. Data on donors and recipients for the years 1996 through 2004 were extracted from the database of the Department of Transfusion Medicine.
RESULTS: Until 2015, the increase in the older population will result in an 11.8 to 13.9 percent increase of blood transfusions. Assuming constant motivation to donate blood as in 2004, the decrease in the younger population will cause a 27.5 to 32.6 percent decrease of blood donations until 2015.
CONCLUSION: The increased demand for blood coincides with a significant reduction in blood donations. From 2008 the shortfalls will grow to 32 to 35 percent of the total demand in 2015 in the area studied. The demographic trends will affect many regions in Europe similarly. Coordinated efforts will be required to prevent blood shortages based on these demographic trends in western societies.