January is a time for making lifestyle changes that set the tone for a better year. That makes it the perfect time to celebrate National Blood Donor Month. Here’s what you need to know.

What is National Blood Donor Month?

Each January, the American Red Cross spreads awareness about blood donation and recognizes the lifesaving contributions of blood and platelet donors.

National Blood Donor Month began in 1970 as a way to encourage people to donate blood and platelets during the winter. The winter months are the most difficult time of year to meet patient blood needs, as inclement weather and seasonal illnesses cause a decrease in donations but a rise in demand.

Why should you donate?

It saves lives. The most basic reason to donate is also the most important. One hour-long blood donation can save up to three lives, especially if you have type O or AB blood.

It’s needed. According to the American Red Cross, the United States needs 36,000 units of red blood cells, 7,000 units of platelets, and 10,000 units of plasma every day. With less than 10% of eligible donors actually doing so, patients and facilities are in dire need of your donation!

Donated blood benefits patients of all ages and backgrounds. Blood donations don’t only benefit accident victims. In fact, most blood donations are used to treat burn victims, cancer patients, those undergoing heart or organ transplant surgery, and patients with inherited blood disorders.

Blood cannot be replaced. Blood is essential to health and cannot be manufactured – only donated by selfless individuals. Blood also has a limited shelf life, as red blood cells must be used within 42 days (or less). That’s why it’s important to donate as often as you can!

It benefits you, too! Donating blood is a selfless act that provides a big boost to your mental health. Studies suggest that blood donation may also have physical benefits for you, like lowering blood pressure and reducing your risk of a heart attack. Plus, you get a free screening before donation that gives you a helpful look at your overall health!

How to Observe:

  • Donate Blood. Don’t wait for a disaster – someone needs blood today! Visit the American Red Cross or contact your local blood bank for information on donation sites near you.
  • Host a blood drive. Form a donation army to maximize your impact! Encourage your friends, neighbors, coworkers, and community to join you in hosting a local blood drive. If just 10 people give, you could save up to 30 lives!
  • Spread the word. Share resource posts, blood donation stories, and fun FAQs on social media to encourage your friends and followers to give!