January is National Blood Donation Month

January 9, 2023
Blood Donation Facts 2019

Download a printable poster here.

One Donation Can Save a Life

Donating blood saves lives – 4.5 million Americans would die every year without a life saving blood transfusion. This translates to a demand for around 36,000 units of red blood cells every single day. The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately three units, which means that one donation could save up to three lives. The most valuable blood type is O negative. These red cells are universal and can be given to patients of all blood types. However, O negative blood type make up only around 7% of the people in the U.S. Thus, the supply falls very short of demand.

According to the American Red Cross, winter is “one of the most difficult times of year to collect enough blood products to meet patient needs.” From canceled blood drives due to busy holiday schedules or inclement weather to seasonal illnesses that keep potential donors at home, many factors contribute to the slow down in blood donations during the winter months. To boost lagging winter supplies, January is designated as National Blood Donor Month since 1970.

Demand for Blood Donations Doesn’t Ebb

While winter holidays keep us busy or viruses and other ailments keep us down, the need for blood and platelet donations never ceases. The Red Cross must collect more than 13,000 donations every day to keep blood supplies readily available to meet the needs of about 2,600 hospitals, clinics, and cancer centers across the country.

Because blood and platelets cannot be manufactured, donations from volunteers are necessary. From surgical procedures, cancer, and chronic illnesses, to traumatic injuries, patients throughout the country require whole blood, red cells, platelets, or plasma—all of which are in a single donation.

Did You Know Blood Donation Benefits Donors?

Donating blood is beneficial for the donor as well. A study from the Journal of Blood Medicine found that regular blood donation can lower the mean total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, protecting donors against cardiovascular disease. Further, the American Journal of Epidemiology found that blood donors are 88% less likely to suffer a heart attack.

Another benefit to donating blood is the free health checkup. A trained medical professional will check your blood pressure, body temperature, and hemoglobin levels as well as test for diseases like Hepatitis B and C, HIV, West Nile virus, and syphilis.

Donating blood, also keeps iron levels balanced which is important for your overall health. Most people typically have around 5 grams of iron in their bodies—mostly in red blood cells and bone marrow. When you donate a unit of blood, you’ll lose about a quarter of a gram of iron which is then replenished by the food you eat.

Donating blood also has emotional benefits. A study from the Mental Health Foundation suggests that helping others can help reduce stress, minimize negative feelings, and boost physical health.

Donate Today

Save lives in January! Find a donation event in your area on the American Red Cross website, Invite your friends and family to go with you—make a difference in the lives of countless others this month. 

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