January is National Blood Donor Month


Since 1970, America has celebrated January as National Blood Donor Month – something that was set in motion by Senate Joint Resolution 154 and proclaimed by President Richard Nixon.

Historically, winter can be a rough time for blood banks across the country. Seasonal illnesses can cause regular donors to be ineligible during parts of the winter and inclement weather can make getting to blood donation centers or scheduled donation days difficult in some parts of the country. To compound the issues for blood banks, those same factors can create an increased need for units of blood and platelets by area hospitals.

“December and January are always detrimental for community blood centers due to holiday travel, frigid weather, and illnesses, such as the flu,” J.B. Gaskins, CEO of Blood Assurance, explained and then talked about some current situations that are affecting local blood supplies. “Blood Assurance has faced some enormous challenges in the weeks leading up to the new year, including supplying a large quantity of additional blood units to hospitals in Middle Tennessee, treating patients with injuries sustained during the deadly tornadoes.”

According to the American Red Cross, the leading blood donation collector in the United States, about 36,000 units of red blood cells and 7,000 units of platelets are used nationwide each day. They estimate that a single victim of a car accident can require up to 100 pints of blood to survive.

It is estimated that approximately 6.8 million people donate blood each year; that number is actually less that 10 percent of the eligible population.  To be eligible to donate blood, donors must be at least 17 years old (16 years old with parental consent), weigh 110 pounds or more, and be in good health.

As the new year starts, Gaskins said that Blood Assurance is in critical need of all blood types but especially O-positive and O-negative. While only seven percent of people in the United States have Type O blood, it is the most requested by hospitals as it is considered a “universal donor” and can be transfused to patients of all blood types. This fact keeps Type O both in demand and short supplied across the country.

“Our non-profit is still experiencing one of the largest shortages we’ve seen in five decades,” Gaskins said. “We hope our community understands the importance of donating before, during and after National Blood Donor Month, by recognizing that blood isn’t something that can be manufactured. A single blood donation can save three lives.”

Those who would like to be a donor during National Blood Donor Month can by schedule an appointment at www.bloodassurance.org/schedule, calling 800-962-0628, or by texting BAGIVE to 999777.

In addition, the American Red Cross will have a donation site set up at the Sparta Civic Center, on Feb. 8, and, as of the time of writing, they still have 26 appointment times available between the hours of noon and 5 p.m. Appointments for that donation day can be scheduled by visiting www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/donation-time

It’s important to understand that donated blood is used, not just in a time of disaster, but daily throughout the country. In addition to those who have been in an accident, cancer patients, organ recipients, and persons with other illnesses rely on the donations of blood and platelets for their immediate health care.

Observe National Blood Donor Month by becoming a donor and saving a life.         


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