Become a donor during National Blood Donor Month

By Walker Polivka, Contributing Writer

As 2019 begins, we go through the usual steps that go along with the beginning of a new year. Resolutions are created and broken. We watch the snow coat the ground. We also look back on the memories of the previous year and look forward to what lies ahead in the new year. However, some people never get to experience those new memories.

Illnesses and accidents occur all the time, regardless of the time of year. Many of these situations can be easily mitigated with a simple blood transfusion, but the right type of blood isn’t always rapidly available. According to the Brookhaven National Laboratory website, “4.5 million Americans would die each year without life-saving blood transfusions.” This is one of the main reasons why regularly donating blood is vital. It’s because of the kindness of others that allow these 4.5 million people to live and continue to make those wonderful memories.

National Blood Donor Month was originally signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1970 in order to honor those who donate blood as well as to encourage others to do the same.

Winter has always been one of the most difficult times for the American Red Cross to collect blood donations. According to their website, “During the winter months, inclement weather often results in canceled blood drives, and seasonal illnesses like the flu may cause some donors to become temporarily unable to donate.” Trying to increase the number of donations during the winter months was the driving reason that led to January becoming National Blood Donor Month. The Red Cross is always in need of blood donations and that becomes magnified during the winter months when so many outside factors seem to be working against them.

It only takes that first donation to see that you’re making a difference. According to the Brookhaven website, “The average adult has 10 pints of blood in their body. One unit of blood given during a donation is equal to roughly one pint. That one pint can save as many as three people’s lives.” Many people donate blood out of the kindness of their hearts. When you realize that you’re impacting countless lives by giving your time and a donation, it makes you want to donate as often as you can.

Your own health also experiences many positives when you donate blood. According to the Federally Employed Women website, “You get a free blood test when donating, and the donor can ask to be informed if any of the 14 irregularities are found. You also get the satisfaction of saving human lives by donating. Each time you donate, the process will help your body burn roughly 650 calories. Most importantly, donating helps reduce the risks of heart disease and cancer by eliminating excess buildup of iron in the blood.” Donating blood not only keeps you healthy, but it lets you know if you have any underlying health risks that you didn’t know about.

Many people claim that they don’t have enough time to donate blood. The Brookhaven website helps to lay those fears to rest. “Blood donation consists of four steps: reviewing your medical history, administering a quick physical, the donation itself, and having refreshments afterwards. The actual blood donation itself usually takes less than 10 minutes. The entire process, from when you sign in to the time you leave, takes about 45 minutes.” An hour of your time can impact the lives of countless patients.

Most people that want to donate are typically able to donate. According to the American Red Cross website, “Anyone who is in good health and feeling well, is at least 16 years old, and weighs at least 110 pounds may donate blood every 56 days.” This means you could donate roughly six times per year, saving up to 18 lives in the process.

Donating blood is a great way to save lives, find out about the status of your own well-being, and to feel better about yourself. National Blood Donor Month promotes these same values and gives many people the opportunity to save lives. To find a blood drive near you, visit the American Red Cross website or download their app.

Photo Credit: Walker Polivka

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