January marks National Blood Donor month, but the Red Cross needs donations year-round

Someone in the United States needs a blood transfusion once every two seconds.
Mark Thomas giving blood
Photo courtesy of Justin Kern
Regional CEO of the Red Cross of Wisconsin giving blood last July

January might be National Blood Donor Month, but the need for blood is always constant. Officials with the American Red Cross say with the pandemic raging on and winter setting in, there’s really never been a better time to donate. 

Laura McGuire, the regional communications manager for the American Red Cross of Wisconsin, says someone in the United States needs a blood transfusion every two seconds. This leaves the Red Cross with pretty big shoes to fill every day — especially when emergencies happen. 

“The Red Cross must collect more than 2,600 platelets and nearly 13,000 blood donations every day for patients at about 2,500 hospitals nationwide,” McGuire says.

Officials from The Red Cross say donating blood is essential to community health and they are testing all blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. People tend to donate less during the summer and winter because of vacations, holiday activities and inclement weather. 

McGuire says as long as you’re 17 years or older, weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health, the donation should take no longer than an hour and fifteen minutes. RapidPasses, found on the Red Cross website, can make the process go even faster. 

“Potential donors should get a good night’s sleep, eat a good meal, drink plenty of fluids and bring an ID and a list of medications they are taking with them to the blood drive,” McGuire says.

Giving blood can reveal hidden health issues, lower iron stores and reduce the risk of getting cancer and having a heart attack. Plus, you’re sure to feel great after donating, knowing you helped one of the thousands of people who need a blood transfusion every day.

“Your blood donation could be helping someone down the street or across the country,” says McGuire. “The Red Cross’ goal is to get the right blood to the right patient at the right time.”

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