Did you know that every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood? Or that one out of every seven patients entering the hospital needs a blood transfusion? From surgeries and cancer treatments to chronic illnesses and traumatic injuries, there are a number of reasons why people need blood transfusions each day.
Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S., and though that need is ever-present throughout the year, blood donation is known to drop during the winter months. Winter weather and seasonal illnesses often inhibit blood drives and keep away potential donors—meaning blood donations are even more critical during this time of the year.
That’s why the American Red Cross has recognized January as National Blood Donor Month since 1970. This article provides an overview of National Blood Donor month, with important statistics and information on why it’s so important.
What is National Blood Donor Month?
The Red Cross must collect more than 13,000 blood donations every day to maintain a sufficient blood supply for patients in need—which can be especially challenging during this time of the year. When these numbers are not met, real lives are at stake. Unfortunately, less than 10 percent of Americans donate blood annually, with winter months reaching all-time, dangerous lows.
January has been recognized as National Blood Donor Month for more than 50 years to encourage people to donate blood during a time when it’s difficult to maintain a sufficient supply. It’s a month dedicated to acknowledging past donors for their life saving contributions, as well as encouraging new donations during a time of the year with a serious blood supply shortage.
Blood transfusions are quite literally a lifesaver—one donation alone can potentially save up to three lives, from car accident victims and cancer patients to pregnant women in labor. For example, in 2019 more than 1.7 million people were diagnosed with cancer, and many of them will need lifesaving transfusions on a daily basis during their chemotherapy treatments. And a single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.
As such, the Red Cross uses initiatives like National Blood Donor Month to help ensure the supply can meet the constant demand. The lifesaving contributions of blood and platelet donors can make all the difference, especially during the donation shortfall that occurs in winter months. Visit http://www.redcross.org/give-blood to learn where and how you can donate blood this January.