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National Blood Donor Month

by Lux Joseph 28. December 2014

Next month don’t be surprised if you see a blood donor van at your neighborhood supermarket. Since 1970, January has been recognized as National Blood Donor month. President Richard Nixon introduced the proclamation and stated, “With the advent of the New Year, it is appropriate and timely to pay high tribute to our Nation's voluntary blood donors for their generosity and to encourage more people-both women and men, and both the younger and the older-to join their worthy ranks by providing a steady and increasing supply of blood during each month of the year ahead.” The winter season can be one of the most challenging seasons for acquiring the amount of blood needed for hospitals and medical centers around the world. During the winter there is an increase number of illnesses, people traveling, and holiday schedules. It can also be a challenging time for donors to keep appointments because of the cold and snowy weather in the northeast and also the post-holiday schedules. We can expect to see an increase number of donor buses around towns to increase the number of blood donations.

Every day in our country, approximately 39,000 units of blood are required in hospitals and emergency treatment facilities for patients with cancer and other diseases, for organ transplant recipients, and to help save the lives of accident victims. Approximately 37% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, but current statistics show that less than 10% do. Those individuals requiring blood rely on that small percentage of donors to hopefully be enough to meet the needs. Unfortunately that is not always the case. While not every individual is eligible to donate, the preliminary requirements are:

  • Donors must be in good health.
  • Donors must be at least 17 years old (16 years old with parental consent).
  • Donors must weigh at least 110 pounds.
  • Eligible donors must have a current photo ID, preferably a valid driver’s license. If you are a high school donor and don't have one of these, another form of ID with your photo and proof of age is necessary.

A donor is eligible to donate whole blood every 56 days, or approximately eight weeks. However, it is important to know that some patients around the world need the other components just as much as they may need whole blood. There are four types of products that can come from whole blood donation: red blood cells, platelets, plasma, and cryoprecipitate. Out of one pint of blood, the whole blood can be separated into two or three parts, allowing a single donor to save up to three lives in a single donation. As a donor, you can also choose to only donate certain components. Plasma can be donated as often as once a month. Platelets can be given every seven days, up to 24 times each year. When you give through automation, also known as apheresis, you may be able to save more lives by helping people with specific blood product needs. Every 12 seconds someone needs a blood transfusion. Many people think that blood banks have a surplus of blood on supply for instances of scarcity, but that is a myth and not the case at all. From the moment an individual’s blood is drawn until the moment it is sent out to the hospital is three (3) days. Immediately after an individual’s blood is drawn it is sent to a lab. At that time it is tested and separated. Once the blood is confirmed to be clean and healthy, the blood is distributed to hospitals.

This upcoming January, Commercial Medical Escorts encourages you to participate in donating blood if you are able to do so. Consider some of these fast facts:

  • 4.5 million Americans receive blood transfusions each year.
  • 40,000 pints are transfused each day in the United States.
  • Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood.
  • A blood donation can save the life of cancer patients, accident, burn, and trauma victims, newborn babies, mothers delivering babies, transplant patients, surgery patients and others in need.
  • Much of today’s sophisticated medical care (transplants, heart surgeries, etc.) relies on blood transfusions. • Car accident and trauma victims may need as many as 50 or more red cell transfusions.
  • Severe burn victims may need as many as 20 platelet transfusions.
  • Bone marrow transplant patients may require platelets and red cells from more than 100 donors.
  • Blood products are perishable: donated red cells last only 42 days, platelets last only 5 days, and plasma can be frozen for a year.
  • State-of-the art automated red blood cell donation, Alyx (60.2 KB), allows donors to double their impact by donating two units of red cells in one visit. This is a month to remember how we can save lives.

Individuals do this every day around the world. Commercial Medical Escorts encourages individuals to participate in blood donation so that we can collaboratively continue to work towards achieving the highest amount of blood donation to save millions of lives at risk daily. By working together to advocate for effective blood programs and recruitment of donors, we can give hope - and blood - for those who give life.


Blood Facts and Statistics. American Red Cross. Accessed on January 13, 2014.

Donation Process. American Red Cross. Accessed on January 14, 2014.



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