January is Blood Donor Month: How You Can Contribute

Posted: Thursday, January 3, 2019

donate blood

January is National Blood Donor Month. Becoming a blood donor is an incredible thing to do, and a great way to start off 2019. Below, we lay out some of the reasons why blood donation is so important.

Necessity

When we think of folks who may need a blood transfusion, many of us envision massive cases of blood loss. But in truth, the need for blood donation is not limited to catastrophe. In fact, roughly one in seven patients entering a hospital will need blood.

Of course, one of the most common cases where blood is needed is in the case of injury. Beyond that, children undergoing chemotherapy also require blood. Premature babies require blood transfusions. And at the opposite end of the age spectrum, seniors suffering from anemia also need blood transfusions. During surgery, blood loss is part of the process, and donated blood is routinely used to see patients successfully through their surgery.

These are only some of the situations in which blood donation helps to save lives. All told, blood is needed every two seconds. If you donate blood, you can rest assured that it will be used.

Scarcity

In the case of blood donation, supply and demand don’t equal out. Despite the widespread need for donated blood, only 37 percent of the population is actually eligible to give blood. While that statistic is staggering in its own right, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Of those 37 percent who can donate blood, less than 10 percent actually do. That works out to less than 3.7 percent of the population actually donating blood.

Adding to the critical importance of blood donation is the fact that blood can’t be manufactured. Medical science has made incredible strides and brought wonderful, life-saving tools and treatments into being. But the ability to develop synthetic blood is not among these innovations. Without donations, doctors are unable to help the folks who need blood.

Simplicity

All told, the process of donating blood takes about an hour—and you get snacks at the end. So just what does the process entail? When you first arrive at the site of the blood donation, you’ll register with a staffer. This requires providing your contact information and answering some medical questions. The goal of these questions is to assess whether you can donate blood. Following this induction, you’ll be given a short physical where a healthcare professional will measure your pulse, blood pressure, body temperature, and hemoglobin. Again, the goal is to make sure that you’re eligible for blood donation.

Once you’ve been cleared to donate blood, you’ll head to an area for the donation. A sterile needle will be used for the procedure, which takes about 10 minutes. Once you’re finished, you’ll be instructed to take a few minutes to rest. While resting, you’ll be provided with a snack and a drink. These measures help prevent against lightheadedness or queasiness.

Connect with a Physician

Blood donation is an important part of primary healthcare. The American Red Cross is a great resource for more information on when and where to donate blood. And be sure to contact DeKalb Health or visit their calendar to find out about blood drives here at DeKalb Health.