Did you know that every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood? Or that winter months make it extremely difficult to collect the necessary amount of blood and platelets needed to supply hospitals? This January, the American Red Cross celebrates National Blood Donor Month and recognizes the lifesaving contribution of blood and platelet donors.
National Blood Donor Month has been celebrated each January for nearly 50 years and coincides with one of the most difficult times to maintain a sufficient blood supply for patients.
When it comes to blood and platelet donations, the winter season is often filled with hurdles as blood drives compete with things such as seasonal illnesses and inclement weather. A donation shortfall over the winter holidays has prompted the American Red Cross to issue an emergency call for blood and for platelet donors to give now to prevent a blood shortage from continuing throughout winter and affecting patient care. The Red Cross collected more than 27,000 fewer blood and platelet donations the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s than needed to sustain a sufficient blood supply, as busy holiday schedules kept many donors away.
During this critical time of year, the Red Cross depends on donors to continue to supply these resources in order to make sure that blood products are available at about 2,500 hospitals nationwide.
Thanks to the generosity of volunteer blood donors, the American Red Cross helps patients receive the blood and platelets needed to battle illness and injury. According to the Red Cross, nearly 2.7 million people in the U.S. volunteer to donate blood and platelets every year. Blood and platelets are available for distribution to hospitals through the Red Cross 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Blood transfusions are given to patients in all kinds of circumstances, including serious injuries, surgeries, child-birth, anemia, blood disorders, cancer treatments and many others. This consistent demand makes National Blood Donor Month an integral piece of the puzzle. Each day the Red Cross must collect 13,000 pints of blood from across the country to meet the needs of patients. This makes a blood and platelet shortage during the colder months a crucial matter for the Red Cross and the hospitals they serve.
Blood is a perishable product that can only come from generous volunteers. A blood donation takes about an hour from start to finish, but the actual donation itself only takes between 8 to 10 minutes. By spending an hour giving blood, donors can aid their community and help save lives! Each blood and platelet donation can save the lives of as many as three people, so this January be a hero in your community and find the closest blood drive or blood donation center in your area.
Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for 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 in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), 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.