January is designated as National Blood Donor Month (NBDM) for encouraging donors to give blood. It is an awareness campaign created by The American Red Cross to promote blood donation. It is designated during this time because blood is usually in short supply during winter because of the holidays and inclement weather which makes people more prone to illness. January is the most difficult month for collecting blood donations not just in the United States but in other countries as well.
In the United States, about 39,000 units of blood are needed in hospitals and emergency medical treatment facilities for patients with diseases, organ transplantation procedures and to help save the lives of victims of accidents. The awareness campaign encourages those who are at least 17 years of age and meet other donor requirements to donate blood.
Purpose of National Blood Donor Month
The main goal of National Blood Donor Month is to encourage people to donate blood during this time when there is usually a considerable decrease in donation. This way, local blood inventories will be sufficient to cover the increase in traumatic injuries due to icy roads and other unsafe conditions and activities during winter.
January has been designated the National Volunteer Blood Donor Month since 1970 because this is the month wherein the most challenges in recruiting blood donors are presented. The extreme weather, busy schedules during the holidays and increased illnesses can keep even the most dedicated blood donors from donating blood. On top of that, the weather also increases the incidence of traumatic injuries like vehicular accidents.
Local Red Cross chapters need about 650 blood donors each day in order to meet the needs of patients in hospitals. However, there is usually a 10-20% decrease in blood donations during winter. This is partly a result of blood drive cancellations due to weather. There are also recruited donors who are not able to donate due to cold or flu symptoms. A lot of unpredictable factors come to play which negatively affects blood supply during January according to the American Red Cross Central Ohio Blood Services Region. This is why it is vital to encourage everyone to donate during this time.
What You Can Do on National Blood Donor Month?
- Go to your local Red Cross and donate blood
- Encourage your family and friends to donate blood
- Organize a blood donation drive working with your local red cross chapter
- Start a social media campaign to educate the public on the importance of donating blood during winter time
- Donate to your local Red Cross chapter
- Volunteer for the American Red Cross
- Write an article about National Blood Donor Month and get it published in your local newspaper
- Organize a blood donation drive in your local university or at work
- Distribute National Blood Donor Month posters including educational paraphernalia
- Encourage your local television and radio stations to make a public service announcement for National Blood Donor Month
Message on National Blood Donor Month
Everyone should make blood donation a priority especially during January. Your blood donation could mean hope for someone who is in desperate need of help. Blood is traditionally low in supply during winter time because of decreased blood donations and the higher incidence of illness, procedures and accidents that require blood transfusion. We should all work together to solve the blood supply shortage during this season in order to help those who are in dire need of blood.
Special Tips on National Blood Donor Month
Here are the eligibility requirements for donating blood:
- At least 17 years of age
- At least 5’1 in height and weigh at least 110 pounds
- Healthy and feeling well
Additionally, here are some tips before blood donation:
- Get enough sleep the previous night
- Drink an extra 16 oz. of water or any non-alcoholic fluid before blood donation
- Eat a healthy, balanced meal before donating
- Bring your donor card or any two forms of identification
Here are tips after donating blood:
- Drink an extra 4 glasses of fluids and avoid alcohol intake the next 24 hours
- Remove the wrap bandage within one hour
- Clean the area around the bandage using water and soap
- Avoid vigorous physical activities for the rest of the day
- Apply pressure if the needle site starts bleeding then hold your arm straight up for a few minutes until it stops bleeding
National Blood Donor Month is a reminder to donate blood since this is usually a time when blood supply is scarce. Everyone is encouraged to donate blood which can help those who are in need and possibly even save a life. If you are unable to donate, help spread the word and encourage others to do so.