Giving as Good as it Gets: January is National Blood Donor Month

Save for those rare few who find their December presents parked in the driveway and wrapped with indulgent bows, most gifts—though warmly received—don’t usually carry a lot of staying power into the new year. Yet, there is one gift that’s never set aside and forgotten. One that transcends time and even transforms lives long after it’s given.

That’s the gift of a blood donation.

Truth told—it does come with a lot of horsepower though—enough to save three lives in just one sitting.

And, unlike the most popular fads of the season, it never goes out of style or through lulls in demand.

In fact, according to the American Red Cross, more than 13,000 donations are needed every day to keep the blood supply ready and available to meet the needs of about 2,600 hospitals, clinics and cancer centers across the country. Somewhat discouragingly, while an estimated 38 percent of the U.S. population can give blood at any point in time, less than 10 percent go through with it.

A Tradition Observed Since 1970

Presidential Proclamation 3952 made it official. Then as now, the timing was important, especially because voluntary blood donations tend to be at their lowest levels after the winter holidays have passed. As such, lawmakers circled the month of January for celebrating those who give, encouraging others to follow their exceptional example.

Health Benefits from Donating Blood

Apart from the fact that making a blood donation is good for the soul, it turns out that the act also has health benefits for donors themselves. Research shows that giving blood eliminates excess buildup of iron in the body, reducing the risks of both heart disease and cancer.  The process also burns about 650 calories per hour, which is about the same as an average spin class, while revealing potentially life-saving irregularities if any are present in sample testing.

People of All Backgrounds are Eligible to Donate

There are only a few restrictions to giving blood. By and large, individuals must be 17-years-old to donate without parental consent, weigh at least 110 pounds, meet basic height requirements, and be in generally good health. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in.

How Much of Your Time is Someone’s Life Worth?

An often-repeated quote from the World Health Organization puts it all into perspective: “Blood is the most precious gift anyone can give to another person—the gift of life. A decision to donate your blood can save a life, or even several, if your blood is separated into its components—red cells, platelets, and plasma.”

Perhaps most encouragingly, donating blood is a simple, safe process, taking only about an hour and fifteen minutes from start-to-finish. All blood types are needed. Healthy donors can give blood every 56 days; platelets may be safely donated seven days apart form maximum of 24 times annually.

Make the Resolution to Join More Than 6.8 Million Donors in 2020

There is an App for it: the American Red Cross Blood Donor App is now available for download. To learn more or to make an appointment, potential donors are also encouraged to visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).