Since 1970, January has been designated National Blood Donor Month with the goal of increasing blood and platelet donations during this historically bone-chilling month – one of the most difficult times of year to collect enough blood products to meet patient needs. The need for blood is constant and doesn’t stop when the weather or holidays interfere; every two seconds someone in the United States needs a blood transfusion.
National Blood Donor Month also acknowledges the selfless generosity of individuals who make time in their busy lives to give of themselves as volunteer blood donors.
Some of the challenges faced during the winter months include recruiting eligible donors with types O negative, A negative, and B negative blood.
- Type O negative is the universal blood type and can be transfused to patients with any blood type.
- Types A and B negative can be transfused to Rh positive or negative patients.
- Platelets – a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients – must be transfused within five days of donation, so it’s essential to have a steady supply of platelets on hand.
Many times people are unsure whether they meet the criteria for blood donation. Those questions can be easily answered by calling 1-800-RED CROSS.
Guidelines for individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in most states) and older, are that they weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements. Blood donations can be safely donated every 56 days. Platelets can be given every seven days – up to 24 times a year
Volunteer blood and platelet donors across Vermont and the country are needed to help save lives. The American Red Cross encourages eligible donors to resolve to give blood or platelets regularly in 2015, beginning with National Blood Donor Month.
Eligible donors can schedule an appointment to give blood using the Blood Donor App, by visiting redcrossblood.org, or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-7332767). The Blood Donor App is free and available for download on iPhoneTM and AndroidTM devices through the App StoreSM and Google PlayTM or by texting BLOODAPP to 90999 for a link to download it.
Mary Brant is Communications Manager at American Red Cross Blood Services for the Northern New England Region.