Blood Donor Awareness Month – Your Blood Can Save Lives

January 8, 2019

January is Blood Donor Awareness Month—a good opportunity to highlight the importance of donating blood and the impact it can have on saving lives.

Blood Donation 101

The average adult has approximately 10 pints of blood in their body. During a donation, approximately 1 pint is taken. A healthy donor can donate blood every 56 days, or donate platelets – tiny cells that help your blood to clot – as few as 7 days apart, up to a maximum of 24 times a year.

There are four blood types: Type A, Type B, Type AB, and Type O. Type A has A markers, Type B has B markers, Type AB has both A and B markers, and Type O has neither A nor B markers. Someone with Type AB blood can receive donations from any blood type. Someone with Type O blood can only receive Type O blood.

Blood types are further categorized by whether or not they contain an Rh (“Rhesus”) factor—a blood protein that helps protect against certain antibodies. Those that do are positive, and those that do not are negative. The majority of blood types do contain the protein. For example, someone with Type O blood without the protein is Type O Negative.

Who Do You Help?

Cancer patients, organ transplant patients, and those suffering from traumatic injuries all benefit from platelet and plasma donations—especially those with Leukemia, and patients undergoing liver or bone marrow transplants.

More broadly, blood donations are needed for surgeries as well as cancer treatment and chronic diseases that require routine blood transfusions like Sickle Cell Anemia. Blood donations are especially important during time of both natural and man-made disaster, such as during hurricanes, wildfires, and mass shootings.

Less than 40% of Americans are eligible to donate blood. Check with your doctor to see if you are eligible. Reach out to organizations like NY Blood Center or American Red Cross to find your local donation center.