Nurse drawing blood from elderly man

January is National Blood Donor Month

Blood donations are desperately needed to save the lives of millions of people. Unfortunately, blood banks have been emptied of their life-saving blood supply and need people to give blood. For more than 50 years, January has been recognized as National Blood Donor Month. Why January? January is typically a time when Red Cross blood donations are at their lowest due to a rise in winter weather and seasonal illnesses. To remedy this problem, people with every blood type are encouraged to make Red Cross blood donations. Donating blood takes just a few minutes, you barely feel a thing, and you get snacks as soon as you’re done. Best of all is the good feeling you get from helping others survive. See why blood donations are vital and whether you’re eligible to give blood, along with precautions to take before giving blood, and the different types of donations. You may be surprised how giving blood can give you so much in return.

Red Cross blood donations are the lifeblood of survival

Blood donations are critical for saving lives. According to the American Red Cross, around 6.8 million people in the United States give blood each year. That may sound like more than enough, but every two seconds, someone in the country needs blood. As a result, the demand exceeds the supply. The only way to pump more blood into the blood supply is for people to give blood. Red Cross blood donations are used to help patients in need of surgery, transfusions, transplants, and cancer treatment. When it comes to maintaining the blood supply, quality matters as much as quantity. There needs to be diversity in the blood supply because not everyone has the same blood type. Some people have very rare types and can only be helped by others who share their type. So, the more people who give blood, the more diverse the blood supply and the more lives that can be saved.

Who is eligible to donate blood?

Now that you understand the importance of donating blood, you may already be asking, “Where are community blood drives near me?” Before you start searching online for “blood donation near me” or looking for local Red Cross blood donation centers, you need to know if you’re eligible to give blood. You’re able to donate blood if you meet the following requirements:    

  • Are at least 16 years old, depending on where you live.
  • Weigh at least 110 pounds as an adult, yet other weight requirements apply if you’re 18 years old or younger.
  • Are in good health.
  • Feel well on the day of donation.

The different types of donations

There’s more than one way to donate blood—there are actually three! Giving the right type of donation determines the best use of your contribution. The first is a whole blood donation, which is a standard donation that can help many people with cancer, traumatic injuries, and blood disorders when divided into red cells, platelets, and plasma. Speaking of plasma, the second type is a plasma donation where you give a part of your blood called plasma. A plasma donation is used to help people with every blood type in emergency situations. The final type is a platelet donation. Platelets help the body create clots and stop bleeding, so these donations are essential for people with cancer, chronic diseases, and injuries.

Precautions to take before donating

Whether you’re nervous about needles or unsure about safety, rest assured that blood donations are comfortable, safe, and easy. While donating blood is practically painless, the following tips can make giving even easier:

  1. Drink an extra 16 ounces of water before you donate.
  2. Avoid coffee, tea, soda, and other caffeinated drinks on the day of your donation.
  3. Have a healthy meal before arriving at your appointment.
  4. Wear short sleeves or a shirt with sleeves that can be rolled up.
  5. Tell the nurse if you have a preferred arm or vein.
  6. Sit back, relax, and feel good about saving lives.

Make a resolution to make a difference

January is all about making resolutions for a healthier and happier life. One of the best ways to improve yours is by doing the same for others. In the spirit of National Blood Donor Month, make a difference in someone’s life by making a blood donation. Hopefully, you’re already asking, “Where can I find blood donation near me?” It’s as easy as doing an online search for “blood donation near me” or visiting the American Red Cross website to find community blood drives. You can also ask your SignatureMD-affiliated doctor for a list of local places to give blood.

So roll up your sleeves and consider donating blood. It’s a good deed that does more good than you may realize.