January is national blood donor month. The American Red Cross celebrates National Blood Donor Month and recognizes the lifesaving contribution of blood and platelet donors. Blood donations typically drop off during and immediately after the winter holidays, which makes National Blood Donor Month in January a critical time for the American Red Cross. Busy schedules, holiday breaks from school, inclement weather, and winter illnesses are just a few things that contribute to fewer blood and platelet donations. In some areas, severe winter weather has forced the Red Cross to cancel dozens of blood drives, leaving hundreds of donations uncollected. This loses quite a challenge since the need for blood doesn’t take a holiday or diminish just because a snowstorm hit. The Red Cross needs to collect more than 13,000 donations every year to keep the blood supply ready and available to meet the needs of about 2,600 hospitals, clinics, and cancer centers across the county. They rely on voluntary blood donors. The Red Cross encourages individuals to resolve each year to roll up a sleeve to give during this important month and then also throughout the year.
National Blood Donor Month has been observed in January since 1970 with the goal of increasing blood and platelet donations during winter. Although an estimated 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood at any given time, less than 10 percent actually do. The Red Cross, which provides about 40 percent of blood in the U.S., hopes to change that. The organization is seeking new donors to step up to help meet the needs of patients battling cancer and other conditions or disorders, individuals undergoing surgery and victims of accidents.
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.
Recently at Mitchell Hollingsworth, we held our own blood drive with great outcome. We definitely want to promote the idea of helping others at Mitchell Hollingsworth. We understand some may have a fear, but the feeling of knowing you’re helping so many usually helps people through; knowing that you’re literally saving a life. In addition to that, if that’s not enough, donating blood also burns calories, reduces the risk of heart disease and the risk of cancer. It also is a FREE TEST; donated blood is tested and the donor can ask to be informed if any irregularities are found in their 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.