January is National Blood Donor Month

January is National Blood Donor Month, when donors are recognized for the lifesaving gift they provide to others, usually strangers, in their community.

The new year is a great time to make a new commitment since we are in the mode to do something different, something better. There are numerous ways to achieve this, but if you are looking for an idea that will make a major impact, look no farther than your local blood bank.

Blood is always needed to treat accident victims, cancer patients, hemophiliacs and surgery patients.

There is a constant demand for blood donations in every community since there is no substitute for human blood. It’s imperative to collect it constantly as blood may be needed at any time.

According to the American Red Cross, over 21,000 people receive blood or blood platelets every day. January is the best time to commit to being a blood donor, as supplies run low after the holiday season.

If you have never given blood, its surprisingly easy.

  • Find your local blood bank. Many are open conveniently on Saturdays. There is a small amount of paperwork to complete about your health history but nothing complicated. Remember to bring a photo ID with you.
  • A mini physical. When you are screened as a potential blood donor it also works as a quick physical for you. Your pulse, blood pressure, body temperature and hemoglobin level will be checked for free.
  • A few drops to start. Your finger will be pricked to obtain a few drops of blood for screening. This is to check your blood iron level to assure it is sufficient for you to donate.
  • Time to donate. If all of your screening meets requirements, you will be directed to a donor bed. A phlebotomist (a medical professional that takes blood samples) will clean your arm with an antiseptic and use a blood donation kit to draw blood from a vein in your arm.
  • Sit back and relax. Once your donation has begun, its not long to give your one unit of blood (about one pint). Most donations take about 10 minutes.
  • Healthy for the donor. Donating blood burns about 650 calories with every pint given, as the body has to work to replenish itself.
  • Rest and snack. When you are ready, you can enjoy a complimentary snack and drink to help you recharge your energy levels and continue on with your day. The whole process takes less than one hour and the gift you give by donating is priceless.

Knowing how quick and easy donating blood is, make the commitment to help someone in need. Your one pint of blood can save up to three lives.

You can give blood every eight weeks, 24 times a year, benefitting up to 72 people. Give the gift of life so someone else can continue to smile, hug and spend more time with family and friends.