National Blood Donor Month

Historically, according to the Association of Donor Recruitment Professionals (ADRP) the month of January is a bad month for collecting blood donations. Due to the holidays, the cold and illnesses, organizations like the Red Cross are less likely to receive the amount of blood they need to cope with accidents, sickness and surgeries. Because of this, the month of January is the chosen month for promoting blood donation.

National Blood Donor Month has been observed in January since 1970 with the goal of increasing blood and platelet donations during winter – one of the most difficult times of year to collect enough blood products to meet patient needs. During the winter months, inclement weather often results in cancelled blood drives, and seasonal illnesses like the flu may cause some donors to become temporarily unable to donate.

Local Red Cross chapters need about 650 blood donors each day in order to meet the needs of patients in hospitals. However, there is usually a 10-20% decrease in blood donations during winter. This is partly a result of blood drive cancellations due to weather. There are also recruited donors who are not able to donate due to cold or flu symptoms. A lot of unpredictable factors come to play which negatively affects blood supply during January according to the American Red Cross. This is why it is vital to encourage everyone to donate during this time.

The importance of donating platelets – a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, burn victims and bone marrow recipients. Unlike whole blood, which has a shelf life of 42 days, platelets must be transfused within five days of donation, so it’s important to have a steady supply of platelets on hand. The extreme weather, busy schedules during the holidays and increased illnesses can keep even the most dedicated blood donors from donating blood. On top of that, the weather also increases the incidence of traumatic injuries like vehicular accidents.

Blood can be safely donated every 56 days. Platelets can be given every seven days – up to 24 times a year. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in most states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Everyone should make blood donation a priority especially during January. Your blood donation could mean hope for someone who is in desperate need of help. Blood is traditionally low in supply during winter time because of decreased blood donations and the higher incidence of illness, procedures and accidents that require blood transfusion. We should all work together to solve the blood supply shortage during this season in order to help those who are in dire need of blood.

National Blood Donor Month is a reminder to donate blood since this is usually a time when blood supply is scarce. Everyone is encouraged to donate blood which can help those who are in need and possibly even save a life. If you are unable to donate, help spread the word and encourage others to do so. American Red Cross blood products serve more than 3,000 hospitals throughout the country, with 120,000 blood drives annually and 38,000 blood donations needed each day. The number one reason donors say they give blood is that they “want to help others.”

Celeste Botonakis

On the Nursing Assistant Guides blog, certified medical assistant Celeste Botonakis explores the daily life of a CMA. She'll keep you up-to-date with the latest on what’s happening in the field, and provides tips for those who are interested in becoming a medical or nursing assistant. Celeste has served in the medical field for over six years, and is passionate about helping people. She currently works at CSR Primary Care in Skokie, Illinois. Click here to learn more about Celeste Botonakis and