Since 1970, January has been recognized as National Blood Donor Month.   

Here are some good-to-know facts about our country's blood supply from the American Red Cross:

  1. The demand for transfusions is growing faster than donations.
  2. Less than 38% of the US population is eligible to donate blood.
  3. Blood cannot be manufactured—it can only come from donors.
  4. Shortages of all blood types usually occur during the summer and winter holidays.
  5. Every day in the US approximately 39,000 units of blood are required in hospitals and emergency treatment facilities for patients with cancer, organ transplant recipients and to help save lives of accident victims.

Additionally, here are some important facts about the blood donation process:

  1. Donating blood is safe.
  2. Actual donation time typically takes less than 10-12 minutes. The entire process (registration, medical history, mini-physical and refreshments) takes about an hour.
  3. The average adult has about 10-12 pints of blood in his body. Roughly one pint is given during a donation.
  4. Donors can give blood every 56 days, or six times yearly.
  5. One donation can help save the lives of up to 3 people!

If you are not yet persuaded to consider donating blood, consider this—-the Red Cross makes blood available to any patient who needs it.  Patients are not required to find donors to replace the blood they use—a practice common in Europe and some US Blood Banks.  This gift allows the patient and their family to focus on the task at hand—recovering. So if you or someone you know has ever been in need of blood or blood products, it was probably available because of donations from strangers.

Through my years as a nurse, I have been witness to many impressive and sometimes anonymous gifts of strength, compassion, and generosity. Donating blood saves lives. 

And if that's not enough to persuade you, how about the free cookies and donuts afterward??