Meigs Health Matters… National Blood Donor Month

January is National Blood Donor Month. It’s time to salute the life-saving impact of blood and platelet donors. Donating blood is a voluntary process and is seen as equivalent to volunteer work. You donate your time (and your blood) to help those in need. 53 years ago, a proclamation was signed by the president marking January as National Blood Donor Month. The purpose of this celebration was to recognize blood donors and encourage others to become donors.

January is usually a time of critical blood shortage. People stop donating blood during the winter months for various reasons – during the holidays they get sick during cold and flu season or blood drives are canceled due to weather conditions during the winter months. winter. In addition to these normal problems, we are currently facing a pandemic which is also hampering blood donation.

According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood or platelets. These needs do not diminish because of the season, a disaster or because we are in a period of a pandemic. Currently, the United States is experiencing a severe shortage of blood. The blood supply has plunged to its lowest in six years. About 29,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the United States Almost 5,000 units of platelets and 6,500 units of plasma are needed daily, according to Over the past few months, there has been less than half a day of Type O blood supply. This is nowhere near the ideal five-day supply. Type O is the most sought after blood group in hospitals. Since type O negative is the universal blood group, it can be administered in emergency situations. This type of scenario occurs when there is no time to find out the patient’s blood type and immediate action is required.

In addition, there is a critical need for platelets. Platelets are the clotting part of the blood. According to the American Red Cross, nearly half of all platelet donations go to patients on cancer treatment. Cancer is a disease too familiar with millions of Americans and their families. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 1.9 million people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer by 2021. Different types of cancers and cancer treatments prevent patients from making their own platelets. Since blood cannot be created artificially and there is no substitute, these patients depend on blood donors for their lives.

Blood donations are used for those battling cancer, accident and burn victims, surgical and organ transplant patients, etc. Donating blood can potentially save up to three lives by the Mayo Clinic. Blood is perishable and unfortunately cannot be stored. Therefore, red blood cells should be used within 42 days and platelets should be used within five days. The reports that the average red blood cell transfusion is around three units; however, a single victim of a car accident may require up to 100 units of blood. These figures are staggering. Statistics simply show the vital need for immediate action on the part of volunteers. Those who are eligible to donate are encouraged to do so now to help overcome and potentially overcome this loophole. If all eligible people donated twice or more per year, blood shortages would be eliminated.

Donating blood is safe. If you are a healthy adult, you can donate a pint of blood without endangering your health. To be able to donate, you must be in good health, be 17 years old (the age required for Ohio and West Virginia), weigh at least 110 pounds, and be able to pass physical and health assessments. Before your donation, make sure you get a good night’s sleep, eat a healthy meal ahead of time – avoid fatty foods, drink plenty of water, check if any medications you have recently taken might be interfering with the donation (platelet donors cannot take aspirin for two days before donation) and wear comfortable clothing that gives access to your arm. For more information on frequently asked questions and what to expect before, during, and after donation, please visit

In closing, try to focus on the good you will do and the lives you will save by donating blood. According to the World Health Organization, “blood is the most precious gift that one can give to another person – the gift of life. The decision to donate blood can save a life.


Jennifer Richmond is the Human Resources Coordinator for the Meigs County Health Department.

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