The month of January is known for resolutions, cold weather throughout much of the country and since 1970, it has been known as National Blood Donor Month (NBDM). During the winter months, organizations such as the American Red Cross struggle to maintain their critical supplies of donated blood for hospitals and other medical facilities. Harsh weather, hectic post-holiday activities at work and other commitments cause typical donors to skip or delay appointments. National Blood Donor Month was started to recognize the almost 11 million people who faithfully give blood each year and also to prompt new donors to make blood donation a part of their New Year’s resolution.
Every single day, more than 40,000 units of blood are needed in hospitals and emergency treatment facilities to save the lives of cancer patients, accident victims, organ transplant recipients and many others with injury and illnesses. This demand doesn’t let up during the winter months when donations decline, and it is estimated that over 44,000 donations per day are needed to maintain the required supplies.
The continuous recruitment of donors is necessary throughout the year because the “shelf-life” of blood donations is very finite. Red blood cells from a donation must be used within 42 days of collection, further, platelets must be used within five days. Only plasma has a longer availability as it can be stored up to a year if it is frozen. It is said that one pint of donated blood can save the lives of three people. Unfortunately, some situations and conditions can place a serious strain on a hospital’s blood supplies. An individual who incurs serious injuries in an automobile accident can require more than 50 units of blood while a patient with severe burns will require more than 20 units of blood.
This reality in our nation’s hospitals is why organizations like the American Red Cross and others work so hard to promote the benefits of regular blood donations. During the month of January, employers around the country are being prompted to hold employee blood drives. There are other ways to help in addition to giving blood. During NBDM, you can also coordinate and host a blood drive, volunteer at a blood drive and recruit donors. The American Red Cross has published easy to follow instructions on ways to get involved on their website.
We want to hear from you on the ways you are getting involved during National Blood Donor Month. Leave us a comment in the section below or stop by our Facebook page and tell us your story or send us a picture of you or a friend donating.