January is National Blood Donor Month, a time to celebrate the lifesaving impact of blood and platelet donors. It 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. The month of January is usually a period of critical blood shortages.
Due to the Holidays, bad weather and increased seasonal illnesses such as colds and flu, blood donations decline right when demand is increasing.
Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. About 36,000 units of red blood cells and 7,000 units of platelets are needed every single day in the U.S. More than 4.5 million Americans would die every year without lifesaving blood transfusions. The need for blood does not diminish during disasters, bad weather or pandemics. Millions of people rely on blood donations from people. That patient needing blood could be an accident victim, a complicated birth, a grandparent, a person battling cancer or your relative, friend or neighbor. A single car accident victim may need up to 100 pints of blood to survive.
According to the Red Cross, about 38% of the U.S. population can donate blood but only 10% actually do. If all eligible individuals donated two of more times a year, blood shortages would be eliminated. Fortunately, eligible blood donors can donate blood every eight weeks. Currently, about 6.8 million people donate blood every year in the U.S. Through our national inventory system, the Red Cross has the ability to move blood around the country to wherever and whenever it is needed most. With the help of volunteer donors, the Red Cross stands ready to provide blood and blood products as needed in response to these ongoing emergencies both large and small.
Give blood. Don't wait for a disaster . Every time a person donates one pint of blood, the potential is there to save three lives. The most requested blood type by hospitals is type O. This kind of blood can be transfused to patients of all blood types, so it's always in great demand and very short supply. Only 7% of people in the U.S. have type O.
Dogs can donate blood too. Check with your veterinarian and the Humane Society to make sure you know the local rules and regulations for this type of donation.
Donating blood is a simple, safe process. All you have to do is register, take a mini-medical history test, donate, and then accept free refreshments like water, Gatorade, granola bars, etc. The American Red Ross and Blood Banks of America encourage everyone that can donate to continue their donations. Those who have never donated, to make an appointment. Blood donation is safer than ever before and saves lives.
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