‘Bloodsuckers’ Shows the True Value of Giving Blood

We’re showcasing our mixed reality blood donation experience at a new museum exhibition to add fun to giving blood. 

Diagnostics Testing|Oct.27, 2023

Most of us probably like to think of our blood as our own, but guess what? Your blood isn’t only precious to you.

If leeches and ticks and mosquitoes and vampires all want it so badly, well, there must be something special in there.

But even the hungriest bloodsucker, mythical or real, doesn’t value your blood as highly as a fellow human in need. And here’s the spooky thing: Only 3% of the U.S. population donates blood each year.

That’s why we’ve dedicated ourselves, along with Blood Centers of America, to maintaining a sustainable blood supply in the U.S. Our commitment will be on display during a special blood drive Oct. 27 and 28 at the Field Museum in Chicago to celebrate the opening of the museum’s new exhibition Bloodsuckers: Legends to Leeches. (If you’re in the area and decide to donate, you will receive up to four free Basic Admission tickets to the museum and access to the exhibition, to be used that day.)

Even though we name-checked some creepy creatures above, rest assured that there’s nothing to fear about giving blood. In fact, donors will get to check out our new mixed reality experience.

They’ll wear lightweight mixed reality headsets and be treated to a digital world even as they remain fully aware of their actual surroundings, ensuring a seamless, convenient, safe and — dare we say it — entertaining donation.

A Huge Resource

“Blood can save your life in an emergency,” said Dr. Jason Kang, Medical Director in Abbott’s Transfusion business. “If you’re bleeding and have lost a significant amount of blood, the only way to completely replace it in a short amount of time is with someone’s donated blood.” 

A single blood donation can save up to three lives.

This is why Abbott and Blood Centers of America are working to make sure there is enough blood on hand so that everyone who needs it has access to it. The need for giving blood is constant, and the need for new and younger donors is especially important. During the last decade, blood donations from donors age 30 and younger have dropped by more than 30%.

“Let’s be honest, needle sticks are no fun for anyone, regardless of your age,” said Kang. “We recognized that in many cases the negative donation experience is related to the needle stick and can be a deterrent to first-time and repeat donation.”

In an effort to attract a new generation of blood donors, Abbott and Blood Centers of America launched the new mixed reality experience that we mentioned earlier. This innovation allows donors to enter a digital world while safely donating, using only their eyes to plant seeds in a whimsical garden as a way to make the donation process more fun and relaxing.

It certainly beats having blood taken out by one of the Bloodsuckers on display at the Field Museum through Sept. 2, 2024.

Be the 1, Give Blood
Be the 1, Give Blood

A Sight at the Museum

The Bloodsuckers exhibition will feature immersive experiences, larger-than-life installations and interactive elements to give visitors a glimpse of the diversity, evolution and interconnected world of nature’s more than 30,000 blood-feeding species — plus the myths, legends and pop culture icons they have inspired. Given that our life-changing diagnostic tests screen nearly 60% of the world’s blood and plasma supply,1 we’re proud to be one of its sponsors.

While the creatures you’ll see there make use of blood in different ways than we do, many of them also need it to survive. Take leeches and ticks: Blood is their main source of food. So, in the grand scheme of things, you could say that blood sustains us all.

Giving blood is an easy way to give back, and the donation drives at the Field Museum provide a unique setting and opportunity to contribute to the community.

The opening weekend drive is just one of several special blood drives Abbott is hosting with Versiti Blood Center of Illinois inside the museum during the exhibit. For more information on future blood drives and to sign up to donate, visit https://www.bethe1donor.com/bloodsuckers.html.


1 Based on where Abbott systems are available.

The mixed reality experience is available at select Blood Centers of America donation centers across the country. To learn if mixed reality is available at a donation site near you, visit bethe1donor.com/mixedreality.