January is National Blood Donor Month. This is an excellent opportunity to tell your patients or clients about the importance of donating blood. Currently, the Red Cross estimates that only 3 percent of potential donors actually take the time to donate blood. That is one out of every 100 people. Think of the dramatic difference even a few additional people could provide.
Blood Donor Eligibility
In order to be eligible to give blood, the donor must be healthy and 17 years old, although some states will allow children as young as 16 to donate if they have parental consent and weigh at least 110 pounds. A person can donate whole blood every 56 days; platelets every 7 days, with a maximum of 24 times per year; plasma every 28 days, with a maximum of 13 times a year; and double red cells every 112 days, with a maximum of 3 times per year. However, there are additional requirements for donors who wish to donate double red cells.
According to America’s Blood Centers, there are many reasons to donate blood. There is always a need for blood; every two seconds, someone is thankful for a blood donation. Blood donations are not just for patients who have been injured in accidents; they are used for cancer patients, premature babies, and surgical patients. Donated blood is crucial in keeping many patients alive, and it can only be obtained from willing donors.
What Happens When I Give Blood?
No matter where a patient goes to give blood, the process will be basically the same. They will register and complete a short medical questionnaire and be given a basic physical assessment which will include checking their blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and hemoglobin. The actual blood donation process takes only about 10 minutes, during which time the donor is seated or reclined. For donors who are giving plasma, platelets, or red cells, the process may take up two hours. Once the donation process is completed, donors are given a light snack and are monitored for about 15 minutes.
The need for blood is always acute. After the holidays, however, many blood banks are especially low because of an increase in demand and a decrease in supply. Use the month of January to encourage patients and customers to make the pledge to donate blood each quarter. This will help your local blood bank build a base of donors that will continue to give all year and will help blood banks ensure there is blood for all the patients in your area.
How will you celebrate National Blood Donor Month? Will you host a blood drive? Discuss the importance with clients?