Winter is one of the most challenging times of the year to collect enough blood products and donations to meet patient needs. That's why National Blood Donor Month is celebrated every January. This year's national health observance comes as the nation's blood supply has dropped to concerning levels and could delay essential blood and platelet transfusions. Blood donors of all blood types—particularly type O blood—are needed to give blood or platelets to help meet daily hospital demands.
It's vital to have plenty of blood banked to meet the demand. Blood is needed for surgeries, traumatic injuries, cancer treatment and chronic illnesses. On a daily basis, roughly 29,000 units of red blood cells, 5,000 units of platelets and 6,500 units of plasma are required. Blood and platelets cannot be made synthetically, making voluntary donations necessary.
The Benefits of Being a Blood Donor This month, resolve to be a blood donor and consider the following health benefits of donating blood regularly:
Health problems detection—Donated blood is tested to determine if any irregularities were found. You're also required to undergo a quick health screening before giving blood.
Reduced heart disease risks—Donating can help eliminate any excess buildup of iron in the blood, lowering your risk for a heart attack.
Caloric burn—The blood donation process can burn up to 650 calories.
Mental health boost—Not only are there physical benefits of donating but volunteering to help others can release dopamine and help combat depression and increase your confidence.
Before you roll up your sleeve and commit to being a regular blood donor, check if you meet the American Red Cross' requirements to donate blood safely. Additionally, each state has its own requirements for the minimum age to donate. Talk to your doctor if you have questions.