January is Blood Donor Month!

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by Brenda F. Johnson Brenda F. Johnson, MSN

Specializes in Gastrointestinal Nursing. Has 30 years experience.

January is the month chosen by the American Red Cross as Blood Donation Month to honor the people who donate blood and platelets and also due to the fact that this month is historically low for donations. They encourage us to donate to keep up with a greater number of accidents and tragedies.

January is Blood Donor Month!

We have repeatedly heard that blood donations are a gift of life, and being nurses, we know this to be true. In fact, in my community, there was a calamitous bus crash last November that killed five children and wounded many more. There are still children recovering from the Woodmore Elementary bus crash here in Chattanooga, TN. My daughter and I went to Blood Assurance soon after to donate blood, and it was extremely crowded. I was happy to see the response from the community. We often can't donate money, but we can donate the red stuff.

National Blood Donation Month has been in January since 1970. They use this month to commend those who have donated blood and platelets throughout the year. They also encourage donors to come in and donate as well has hold blood drives to build up their supplies. The icey roads and snow cause many to cancel appointments this time of year.

The need for blood transfusions for hospital patients is about 44,000 on a daily basis across America. This is an incredible number. These transfusions are for the acutely ill, gastrointestinal bleeds, surgeries, and trauma cases along with the chronic need of cancer and chronically ill patients.

The American Red Cross is not just about blood donations, they are among the first on the scene for disaster. They provide shelter, food, health and mental health services for victims of fire, earthquake, tornados, etc. 150,000 military families are aided with the challenges they encounter, especially the wounded military.

They also have a global presence in 187 countries with humanitarian efforts. 100 million people are reached during disasters and the Red Cross also helps to build secure communities. Training programs are a huge part of the Red Cross, they are the leading educator for health and safety courses such as CPR, First Aid, and Lifeguard training.

There are many ways to help the Red Cross, or any organization in your area. Monetary donations are certainly welcomed, fundraisers, hosting a blood drive, hosting a class, volunteering, and of course donating the gift of life.

Other facts about the Red Cross:

  • The Red Cross responds to an emergency every 8 seconds.
  • They respond to 66,000 home fires yearly
  • Comfort kits are given out in emergencies that provide basic personal supplies like toothbrush and toothpaste. Trash bags, tarps, rakes, and shovels are also supplied. Not only are basic needs addressed like with food and water, but health care workers provide first aid and emotional support for those in need after a disaster.

Here are a few stats regarding blood donations:

  • One in four people will need a blood transfusion in their lifetime
  • Only 37% of the population are eligible to donate blood
  • Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood
  • Less than 10% of the population give annually

There is a family in Portland, Oregon that family members have been donating blood in January together for 42 years. Sam Weiss leads the 20 family members to carry out their New Year's resolution of donating blood. Three generations of the Weiss-Parker family donate blood and platelets - Sam, his children, their spouses, and grandchildren. Sam's parents began the tradition in the 1940s, donating a total of 1,400 pints and more than 175 gallons.

There are restrictions to know before donating blood:

  • Must be 17 years old (16-year olds may donate with parental consent)
  • At least 5 ft 1 and weigh at least 110 pounds
  • Healthy, feeling well
  • Be free of major cold and flu symptoms
  • Not have history of any risk factors/behaviors associated with HIV/AIDS

Before donating blood it is important to drink at least 16oz of fluids, eat a good meal, bring donor card or two forms of identification.

Donating blood is a very honorable way to help our community. When I think of the little elementary children of the bus accident mentioned earlier, my heart hurts. Donating blood seems like such a small thing in comparison to the agony these families are enduring.

There are some disqualifications to donating blood that you won't know sometimes until you get to the donation center such as a high heart rate, blood pressure high or low, or hemoglobin being below the acceptable level. The personnel will ask a lot of questions regarding your sexual, health, and travel history. So be prepared for the process but be dedicated to the cause.

What are your experiences with blood donations? If you have never donated, make this year your starting point of giving a gift of life to someone else.

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8 Comment(s)

tnbutterfly - Mary, BSN, RN

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg. 156 Articles; 5,915 Posts

Over the past 20 years, I have organized blood drives twice a year for my church. One of the local bloodmobiles comes to the church and we make a big event out of it. The donors are so happy and proud to be able to do this. Many of them have cards with how many gallons they have given over the years. It is their silent badge of honor.

traumaRUs

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN, CNS

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 30 years experience. 164 Articles; 21,186 Posts

I always donated blood until we moved to Spain - now of course will be forever banned:

You are not eligible to donate if:

From January 1, 1980, through December 31, 1996, you spent (visited or lived) a cumulative time of 3 months or more, in the United Kingdom (UK), or

From January 1, 1980, to present, you had a blood transfusion in any country(ies) in the (UK) or France. The UK includes any of the countries listed below.

  • Channel Islands
  • England
  • Falkland Islands
  • Gibraltar
  • Isle of Man
  • Northern Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Wales

You were a member of the of the U.S. military, a civilian military employee, or a dependent of a member of the U.S. military who spent a total time of 6 months on or associated with a military base in any of the following areas during the specified time frames

  • From 1980 through 1990 - Belgium, the Netherlands (Holland), or Germany
  • From 1980 through 1996 - Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Italy or Greece.

You spent (visited or lived) a cumulative time of 5 years or more from January 1, 1980, to present, in any combination of country(ies) in Europe, including

  • in the UK from 1980 through 1996 as listed above
  • on or associated with military bases as described above, and
  • in other countries in Europe as listed below:
    • Albania
    • Austria
    • Azores
    • Belgium
    • Bosnia/Herzegovina
    • Bulgaria
    • Canary Islands
    • Croatia
    • Czech Republic
    • Denmark
    • Finland
    • France
    • French Guiana
    • Germany
    • Greece
    • Hungary
    • Ireland (Republic of)
    • Italy
    • Kosovo
    • Le Reunion
    • Liechtenstein
    • Luxembourg
    • Macedonia
    • Martinique
    • Montenegro
    • Netherlands (Holland)
    • Norway
    • Poland
    • Portugal
    • Romania
    • Serbia
    • Slovak Republic
    • Slovenia
    • Spain
    • Spanish North African Territories (Penon de Velez De la Gomera, Penon de Alhucemas, Islas Chafarinas, and the cities of Centa and Melilla)
    • Sweden
    • Switzerland
    • Yugoslavia (or the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)

Sour Lemon

Has 12 years experience. 5,016 Posts

I have only donated blood once and ended up unconscious on the floor before I made it out of the building. I've been concerned about donating since then, but I am an organ donor.

Brenda F. Johnson, MSN

Specializes in Gastrointestinal Nursing. Has 30 years experience. 98 Articles; 319 Posts

Over the past 20 years, I have organized blood drives twice a year for my church. One of the local bloodmobiles comes to the church and we make a big event out of it. The donors are so happy and proud to be able to do this. Many of them have cards with how many gallons they have given over the years. It is their silent badge of honor.

That is so good to hear! Thank you for all the hard work!

Brenda F. Johnson, MSN

Specializes in Gastrointestinal Nursing. Has 30 years experience. 98 Articles; 319 Posts

I always donated blood until we moved to Spain - now of course will be forever banned:

You are not eligible to donate if:

From January 1, 1980, through December 31, 1996, you spent (visited or lived) a cumulative time of 3 months or more, in the United Kingdom (UK), or

From January 1, 1980, to present, you had a blood transfusion in any country(ies) in the (UK) or France. The UK includes any of the countries listed below.

  • Channel Islands
  • England
  • Falkland Islands
  • Gibraltar
  • Isle of Man
  • Northern Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Wales

You were a member of the of the U.S. military, a civilian military employee, or a dependent of a member of the U.S. military who spent a total time of 6 months on or associated with a military base in any of the following areas during the specified time frames

  • From 1980 through 1990 - Belgium, the Netherlands (Holland), or Germany
  • From 1980 through 1996 - Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Italy or Greece.

You spent (visited or lived) a cumulative time of 5 years or more from January 1, 1980, to present, in any combination of country(ies) in Europe, including

  • in the UK from 1980 through 1996 as listed above
  • on or associated with military bases as described above, and
  • in other countries in Europe as listed below:
    • Albania
    • Austria
    • Azores
    • Belgium
    • Bosnia/Herzegovina
    • Bulgaria
    • Canary Islands
    • Croatia
    • Czech Republic
    • Denmark
    • Finland
    • France
    • French Guiana
    • Germany
    • Greece
    • Hungary
    • Ireland (Republic of)
    • Italy
    • Kosovo
    • Le Reunion
    • Liechtenstein
    • Luxembourg
    • Macedonia
    • Martinique
    • Montenegro
    • Netherlands (Holland)
    • Norway
    • Poland
    • Portugal
    • Romania
    • Serbia
    • Slovak Republic
    • Slovenia
    • Spain
    • Spanish North African Territories (Penon de Velez De la Gomera, Penon de Alhucemas, Islas Chafarinas, and the cities of Centa and Melilla)
    • Sweden
    • Switzerland
    • Yugoslavia (or the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)

Wow! Thank for the information

Brenda F. Johnson, MSN

Specializes in Gastrointestinal Nursing. Has 30 years experience. 98 Articles; 319 Posts

I have only donated blood once and ended up unconscious on the floor before I made it out of the building. I've been concerned about donating since then, but I am an organ donor.

So sorry to hear that. If you ever try it again, I would eat and drink before donating then wait around in the center for at least half an hour to make sure you aren't going to pass out again

mmc51264, ADN, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in orthopedic; Informatics, diabetes. Has 10 years experience. 3,129 Posts

The very first time I donated blood, I had a false positive for Shigella and, I think one of the Hepatitises. Both were negative with second screen but until the test is fixed, I cannot give blood :(

beckysue920

beckysue920

Specializes in Psych, HIV/AIDS. 134 Posts

Can a person donate blood if they have a history of cancer in the past, and had a course of chemo?