January is National Blood Donor Awareness Month

Published 4:55 pm Friday, January 14, 2022

January is National Blood Donor Awareness Month and this year marks the 52nd anniversary of National Blood Donor Month. NBDM was first signed on December 31, 1969 by then President Richard Nixon, and its purpose was, and continues to be, to show the importance of giving blood to help patients in need.

This year blood donations are critical as the country’s blood supply has dropped to concerning levels due the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals and blood centers have been suffering from shortages for the last year. According to the American Red Cross, there has been a ten percent decline of blood donations since March 2020, a sixty-two percent drop in college and high school blood drives due to the pandemic, and ongoing blood drive cancellations due to illness, weather-related closures and staffing limitations.

Other factors that have affected the blood supply include donor fatigue, organizations are unable to hold successful blood drives due to many people working from home, groups that supported the blood supply before the pandemic have not returned to hosting blood drives, and fear of COVID-19 infections have kept donors away.

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The new variants of COVID-19 also play a part in the supply issue as people cancel appointments and groups cancel blood drives. The American Red Cross says winter is the most challenging time of year to collect blood donations, and the new variants are causing uncertainty across the country.

Any healthy adult, both male and female, can donate blood. Men can donate safely once every three months while women can donate every four months. All blood types can donate blood.

A blood donor needs one of the following forms of ID – blood donor card, driver’s license, passport, or other forms of ID with a photo. Individuals who are 17 years old (16 with parental consent where applicable), weigh at least 110 pounds, and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood.

For more information on how to give blood, visit www.redcrossblood.org or contact your local organizations to make a blood donation.