January became National Blood Donor Month when President Richard Nixon proclaimed it on December 31, 1969 and has been celebrated every year since 1970. January is often the most difficult time of year to collect blood due to things like busy holiday plans, inclement weather and seasonal illnesses like influenza.
The World Health Organization says, “blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person; the gift of life. A decision to donate your blood can save a life, or even several if your blood is separated into its components.” It is estimated that 4.5 million Americans would die each year without life-saving blood transfusions. The American Red Cross estimates that 38% of Americans can donate blood but only 10% do. They need 13000 blood donations each day in order to keep up with the blood supply demand and it takes 1000 donations to support one blood transfusion.
There are emotional, as well as physical reasons to donate blood including stress reduction, a sense of belonging and contributing to society. The physical reasons can be:
- You’ll learn your blood type and all types are needed
- Lowered risk of heart disease or attack by reducing blood viscosity
- Lowered LDL and mean total cholesterol
- Potential lower Cancer risk for those related to high iron levels like liver, colon or stomach
- Free Mini Health check-up because your pulse, BP, temperature and hemoglobin levels are checked
- Free blood test for Hepatitis B and C, HIV, West Nile and syphilis.(www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-donating-blood)
Most states have general requirements for donors. You must be over age 17, weigh more than 110 lbs. and be in general good health. Most also require you have had no piercings or tattoos in the last 12 months.
Did you know that what you eat can optimize your blood donation experience? Hydrate before and after since you will lose fluid during this process. Secondly, since iron is used by the body to make hemoglobin, choose iron-rich foods like beef, chicken, eggs, spinach, kale, some fruits (strawberries & watermelon) and beans.
Go to RedCrossBlood.org to make an appointment to donate. You can also sign up for a Rapid Pass to speed up the process by completing the health questionnaire ahead of time.
Dogs can donate!
Check with your local Humane Society or veterinarian. About 40% of dogs are in the universal group which is like humans with blood type O-negative. However, dogs have over 12 different blood groups and all are needed. Similar to the requirements for people, dogs must generally fit these criteria:
- Typical age range of 1-9 years old
- Typical weight of 35-50 pounds
- Be in general good health
- Current on required vaccinations
- Not on any medications except flea, tick & heartworm preventative
Members of the NHS Solutions team & many of our interim healthcare leaders are blood donors. Join us in donating in 2019!