Donating blood saves lives and historically, the winter months have been some of the most challenging times of the year to meet the demands of patients who require donated blood. That’s why January has been designated as National Blood Donor Month since 1970 and this year marks the occasion’s 50th year.
Why It’s Important to Donate Blood
According to the World Health Organization, “blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person — the gift of life.” The first blood bank in the U.S. was opened in Chicago in 1937 by Hungarian physician Bernard Fantus. Today, the American Red Cross needs 13,000 blood donations a day to maintain the supply needed to save the 4.5 million Americans a year who require a blood transfusion. On the bright side, donors can donate blood every eight weeks, but the downside is that while 38% of the population is eligible to donate blood, only about 10% do. One donation can save up to 3 lives and many consider it their civic duty to donate blood. But according to the American Journal of Epidemiology, donating blood is good for donors too–blood donors are 88% less likely to have a heart attack.
What is a Transfusion?
A blood transfusion is a process of transferring blood, or any part of the blood, from one person to another. Blood is made up of 3 parts—red blood cells, platelets, and plasma.
How Donating Blood Can Impact Children
According to the American Red Cross, there is a 97% chance that someone you know will need donated blood for a transfusion at some point in their life. That person could be your child or a child you know. A child might need a life-saving blood transfusion during major surgery, to recover from a serious illness, or to treat a medical condition. Other reasons include:
- Sudden loss of blood as a result of trauma
- Low hemoglobin (the part of red blood cells that helps them carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body) before, during, or after surgery
- Severe heart or lung disease
- Bone marrow failure
- Moderate to severe anemia
Where to Donate
All blood for transfusions comes from volunteer donors. The American Red Cross conducts Blood Drives throughout the year. If you live in the Jenkintown area, you can visit the Northeast Philadelphia Blood Donation Center at 1401 Rhawn Street Philadelphia, PA 19111 between 07:15am and 3:30pm to donate blood. You can also download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS to make an appointment or to search for up-to-date times and locations of local blood drives.