January is National Blood Donor Month


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Every January, National Blood Donor Month provides people an opportunity to roll up their sleeves and donate blood or pledge to give blood at a time of the year when this lifesaving resource is typically in short supply.

Blood donations typically decrease due to unpredictable weather conditions that often result in blood drive cancellations. In addition, blood donations normally decline during the busy end-of-year holidays, so blood centers and hospital collection sites often face shortages at the beginning of the New Year.

“While 60 percent of people in New Jersey are eligible to donate blood, only 3.6 percent of them do,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal. “National Blood Donor Month is an excellent time to make a blood donation and make a significant difference in someone’s life. Blood is needed 365 days a year – not just during disasters.”

According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs a blood transfusion due to illness, to treat an injury or during surgery, according to the American Red Cross. A single unit of blood from one donor can save up to three lives.

There is no artificial substitute for blood. New Jersey’s blood centers are encouraging donors to explore a range of donation options by contacting their nearest blood center and asking what the greatest needs are for donations at a given time.

Whole blood donation, the most common type of blood donation, usually takes about an hour, though the actual donation takes about eight to 10 minutes during which approximately a pint of “whole blood” is given. People are eligible to donate whole blood every 56 days.

Another option is donating platelets, which are a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, burn victims and bone marrow recipients. Unlike whole blood, which has a shelf life of 42 days, platelets must be transfused within five days of donation, so hospitals must have a steady supply on hand. Platelets can be donated every seven days up to 24 times a year.

Plasma also is needed and often used in trauma situations. Plasma is the clear, straw-colored liquid portion of blood that remains after red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and other cellular components are removed. It is the essential starting material used in the manufacture of therapies that help people with rare, chronic diseases to live healthier, productive lives. Plasma can be donated every 28 days or up to 13 times a year.

To learn more about blood donation in New Jersey and to schedule an appointment to donate, visit https://www.redcrossblood.org/.



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