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January Is National Blood Donor Month

January 22, 2015
A woman donates blood as a nurse assists.

Since 1970, January has been recognized as National Blood Donor Month in an effort to increase blood donation during the winter months. Generally, the American Red Cross encounters a slump in donations around January due to weather-related problems such as canceled blood drives, in addition to many regular donors who catch the flu and are unable to donate around this time of year.

So why can’t the Red Cross just stock up on blood and rely on the surplus during the winter? It’s not that simple. Blood has a shelf life of only 42 days, and platelets (commonly used in cancer treatment or for burn victims) have to be used within 5 days of donation. When you take into consideration just how many people need blood and platelets on a daily basis, the timeframe of these shelf lives can get pretty grim.

What can you do to help out?

Make a commitment to donate blood on a regular basis. Did you know that you can donate blood every 56 days? And that platelets can be donated every 7 days? Starting as early as age 17 (or even 16 with parental consent), you can begin donating blood if you weigh at least 110 pounds.

Now, it’s easier than ever to make an appointment to donate blood. The Red Cross has created the Blood App you can download to your smartphone. Using the app, you can find local blood drives, make an appointment and receive shortage alerts. Or, you can go to their website and enter your ZIP code to find donation centers near you.

The need is real, and the difference your donation will make is significant. Donate today and save a life.

About the Author

A Georgia native, Rachael Wheeler works as a Blogger for GeorgiaGov. She writes about a variety of current topics relevant to the Georgia government.


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