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Show some love to those who need it the most by giving something that literally comes from your heart – a blood donation!

Blood transfusions in the US and throughout the world continue to save lives every day. From people who are undergoing cancer treatment to those who have blood diseases like Sickle Cell, the need for blood donations is great. The best news is that most healthy adults are eligible to donate and it’s absolutely free to give. So join in and get involved for National Blood Donor Month!

History of National Blood Donor Month

Since the 1600s, scientists and medical professionals have been interested in and excited about the idea of using live blood transfusions for people who need them. By the early 1800s, a British obstetrician performed the first successful human blood transfusion to a patient. And within 100 years, blood types and anticoagulant agents had been discovered to help with the process of matching and preserving the blood. 

Since that time, the process of collecting and transfusing blood into patients has likely saved millions of lives, with now more than 13 million units of whole blood collected each year in the United States.

National Blood Donor Month is an event that has been taking place for more than five decades! In 1969, US President Richard M. Nixon signed a proclamation designating the month of January as National Blood Donor Month (NBDM). This annual observance at the beginning of the year was established to show appreciation for voluntary blood donors and encourage healthy individual citizens to give blood as often as they are able.

Each year, the Red Cross and many other medical and health support organizations get involved with the celebration of National Blood Donor Month. Because blood donations typically decline during the holiday season and colder winter months, January is a great time to remind folks and make it compelling for them to go out and make a blood donation!

While National Blood Donor Month is an event that has roots that come from the United States, it is also possible to observe World Blood Donor Day, which takes place every June 14. 

How to Celebrate National Blood Donor Month

Do some good and save some lives by raising awareness for and celebrating National Blood Donor Month! Check out some of these important ways to get involved with the day.

Donate Blood

People who are healthy and meet the qualifications for donating blood should consider doing so as often as they can. And National Blood Donor Month is a great way to start out the year with a new and selfless habit. So be sure to make an appointment to donate blood during this month. And since one blood donation can save up to three lives, it’s an excellent way to spend an hour!

Plus, donating blood is not only helpful for the recipients and many people don’t realize that there are also benefits for the person who gives blood. Studies have shown that people who donate blood are likely to have help with lowering their blood pressure as well as a lower risk of heart attacks.

Those folks who aren’t sure if they are eligible to donate blood can call or check the website of their local blood bank. The rules change based on the donation type, but here are some of the basic requirements that the Red Cross lists for giving whole blood:

  • Weigh at least 110 pounds
  • Be at least 16 years old (in most states)
  • In good health and feeling well
  • Have waited at least 56 days since giving blood previously

Make a Financial Donation

The American Red Cross and other charitable organizations have been making it possible for people to donate their blood for many years. But the process of donating the blood comes with a cost that is underwritten by these organizations, including the cost of medical supplies, staffing, blood storage and more.

Perhaps some people who do not qualify to give blood for health reasons might still want to be supportive of this need. National Blood Donation Month could be a great time to show support for the cause by signing up to make a financial gift, whether one time or recurring, to a local blood center of choice or to the American Red Cross.  

Consider the Importance of Blood Donation

In the United States, the need for blood donation is very high. As the country with the third largest population in the entire world, someone in the US needs blood as often as every two seconds! Check out some of these ways that blood donations are used to improve people’s health and even save their lives:

  • Trauma patients often need blood, particularly red blood cells, when they lose it due to accidents, injuries and more.
  • Cancer patients need blood donations because chemotherapy and radiation treatments suppress bone marrow making it difficult for them to produce their own healthy blood cells.
  • Sickle Cell patients have a disease that produces red blood cells that don’t work properly and regular blood transfusions are often needed to keep them alive and reduce their pain.
  • Patients who are in a burn unit may need blood transfusion due to surgery, blood loss, decreased red blood cells or they may also need plasma.

Share Resources About Blood Donation

Many different groups, such as schools, churches, community centers, large corporations and others, like to organize blood donation drives in celebration of National Blood Donor Month. Those who are putting on a blood drive may want to do some marketing and share resources with their potential donors to raise awareness and encourage them to give.

A number of different charity organizations offer resources and toolkits for those interested in hosting a blood drive, including some from ImpactLife, the Association for Blood Donor Professionals, or the Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies.

National Blood Donor Month FAQs

What blood type is the universal donor?

People with O negative type are often called ‘universal donors’ because anyone can receive the red blood cells from their donations.[1]

How often can you donate blood?

A healthy blood donor may typically donate every 56 days or eight weeks.[2]

How much blood do you donate?

The target donation for whole blood is typically 500ml, which is about 10% of a donor’s blood supply.[3]

Can you donate blood if you have a tattoo? 

People who have recent tattoos or body piercings may need to wait a few months before donating blood.[4]

How long does it take to donate blood?

The entire process of donating blood with the Red Cross takes about an hour or less, including about 20-30 minutes for paperwork and preparation, 10 minutes for the actual blood donation and 10-15 minutes for rest and recovery.[5]

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