This January, the American Red Cross celebrates National Blood Donor Month and recognizes the lifesaving contribution of blood and platelet donors. As we begin the New Year, the Red Cross encourages individuals to resolve to roll up a sleeve to give this month and throughout 2016.
National Blood Donor Month has been observed in January since 1970 with the goal of increasing blood and platelet donations during winter – one of the most difficult times of year to collect enough blood products to meet patient needs. During the winter months, inclement weather often results in cancelled blood drives, and seasonal illnesses like the flu may cause some donors to become temporarily unable to donate.
A New Year’s resolution to give
This past weekend in Portland, Oregon, the Weiss-Parker family preserved a commitment made more than 40 years ago. Showing that blood ties can help save lives, Sam Weiss leads the family tradition of bringing together nearly 20 Weiss-Parker family members to donate blood for the 41st year in a row.
“My father came up with the idea to get the family together and start the year with a New Year’s resolution of giving the gift of life,” said Weiss. “He thought the family tradition could help increase donations after the holidays since he knew that people are needed to donate during that time.”
The Weiss-Parker family of blood and platelet donors spans three generations. Weiss and his wife, their children with their spouses, and their grandchildren count donating blood together as one of their family’s traditions. The tradition was started by Weiss’ parents Morris and Shirley Weiss, who are now deceased, in the early 1940s. As of 2015, the Weiss-Parker family has donated more than 1,400 pints of blood which is more than 175 gallons.
How to donate blood
Blood donation appointments can be made by downloading the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or to receive more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients.
A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Blood donors can now save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, prior to arriving at the blood drive. To get started and learn more, visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.