According to the American Red Cross, the winter months are often the most difficult, in terms of collecting enough blood products to meet patient needs.
A primary reason is that busy holiday schedules and foul weather often result in canceled blood drives. In addition, seasonal illnesses such as the flu force potential donors to forgo their blood donations.
That’s why National Blood Donor Month, which has taken place each January since 1970, has become an important observance. The World Health Organization stresses that blood is “the most precious gift,” one person can give to another. It stresses that a decision to donate blood can save lives.
“I’d ask that people donate if they can,” said Joy Wesley, Laboratory Director at Lawrence County Memorial Hospital. “There are medical and lifestyle restrictions that would eliminate some donors, but if you can give, please do.”
Wesley notes that there is always a “critical need” for type O blood, and especially O negative. That’s because type O blood can be transfused to patients of all blood types.
The problem is, only seven percent of Americans have type O blood. “There are very few of those donors,” Wesley said. “But their blood can be given to anyone.”
Typically, Wesley said, Lawrence County Memorial will hold an annual blood drive in June, with a goal of about 20 donors. Sometimes, she added, the American Red Cross will ask that the hospital hold an additional drive in December. In addition, there are regularly scheduled American Red Cross blood drives in locations throughout Lawrence County.
Red Hill High School, 908 Church Street in Bridgeport, is hosting one from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., on Jan. 16. Also, one is scheduled at the St. Francisville Christian Church, 714 Main, from 3 until 7 p.m. on Jan. 28.
More information is available at www.redcrossblood.org.
National Blood Donor Month facts
-Czech doctor Jan Jansky is credited with the first classification of blood into four types: A, B, AB and O,
in the early 1900s.
-American physician Reuben Ottenberg performed the first successful blood transfusion using blood typing
and crossmatching at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York in 1907.
- In 1937, Hungarian physician Bernard Fantus established the first hospital blood bank in the United
States at Cook County Hospital in Chicago.
- According to Brookhaven National Laboratory, people who begin donating blood at age 17 and donate every
eight weeks will have donated 48 gallons of blood by age 76.
-When blood is donated, laboratories examine the donation for multiple infectious diseases, such as HIV and West Nile virus.
-A single vehicle accident victim may need up to 100 pints of blood to survive.
-About 6.8 million Americans donate blood every year.
-In the United States, 38 percent of the population is eligible to donate, but fewer than 10 percent actually do.