This January, the American Red Cross celebrates National Blood Donor Month and recognizes the lifesaving contribution of blood and platelet donors. As we begin the New Year, the Red Cross encourages individuals to resolve to roll up a sleeve to give this month and throughout 2018.
National Blood Donor Month has been observed in January since 1970 with the goal of increasing blood and platelet donations during winter – one of the most difficult times of year to collect enough blood products to meet patient needs. During the winter months, inclement weather often results in cancelled blood drives, and seasonal illnesses like the flu may cause some donors to become temporarily unable to donate.
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.
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.
Five health benefits from donating blood:
- Free blood tests – donated blood is tested and donor can asked to be informed if any irregularities are found.
- Satisfaction of saving human lives
- Calorie burn – Blood donation process burns 650 calories – about the same as an average spin class!
- Reduced risk of heart disease – helps eliminate excess buildup of iron in the blood
- Reduced risk of cancer – also due to reduction of excess iron buildup in the blood