Since 1970, January has been declared National Volunteer Blood Donor Month. January typically has the lowest number of blood donors. This is believed to be due to busy holiday schedules, increased cold and flu symptoms and changing weather. Unfortunately, the need for blood during this month is high. Blood cannot be manufactured or harvested, so donation is the only way to obtain it. A unit (pint) of blood is needed every 2 seconds in the U.S. One out of every seven people admitted to the hospital require blood. Cancer patients, surgery patients, hemophiliacs, and accident victims always need blood.
To be a blood donor one must:
- Show identification
- Be in generally good health
- Be at least 17 years old (some states allow 16 year olds to donate blood with parental consent)
- Weigh 110 pounds or more
You will also answer questions about your medical history and prescription drug use to determine if it is safe for you to donate blood, and for someone to receive your blood. Blood centers check your temperature, iron, pulse, and blood pressure to make sure it is safe for you to give blood. Travel to some areas of the world and recent vaccinations may prevent you from donating so contact your local blood center if you have any questions. Donation takes about 10 minutes.
It is a good idea to eat before you give blood, and make sure you are well-hydrated. Blood donation centers provide cookies and juice for donors to enjoy while they relax before returning to normal daily activities The American Red Cross urges everyone to make blood donation a priority this winter. If you are in good health, now is the time to donate blood. You can make a difference this winter as a blood donor!
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