A blood donation, for obvious reasons, is commonly referred to as the gift of life. According to the American Red Cross (ARC), donated blood is used in life-saving procedures every two seconds in the United States, consuming an estimated 36,000 to 40,000 pints per day.
Ironically, during the holiday season when gift giving is at the highest, the giving of the “gift of life” drops significantly for a variety of reasons.
Inclement weather keeping people in their houses, hectic holiday schedules, sky-rocketing cold and flu cases, increased traveling and higher vehicle accident rates are all contributing factors to low donation numbers during that time period. It is the main reason the ARC designates January as National Blood Donor Month as they attempt to replenish the depleted blood supply.
It is also the reason you may see blood drives being held the week just prior to Thanksgiving such as the one at Swanton’s Epic Center on Main Street the Monday before the November holiday.
Of course, blood is needed year-round and the ARC pays four to six visits a year to Swanton and other communities depending of the supply levels. “People are allowed to donate every 56 days,” explained Inez Phillips, ARC Supervisor of Collections for the Western Lake Erie Region.
The blood does not sit around very long, not only because of the demand but, also because of its shelf life. It is shipped out to storage facilities and testing labs immediately. It’s a very fast process,” said Ms. Phillips. “Refrigerated blood cells can be stored for up to 42 days but platelets only last a few days.”
The need will be growing for the next several weeks so donors are always welcome. You can call 1-800-733-2767 for more information or go online at redcrossblood.org to check your eligibility and view a schedule of blood drives in your area. Also, the Red Cross office, located at 3510 Executive Parkway in Toledo, accepts walk-in donations during the hours of 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. What the Red Cross wants everyone to know when considering donating is that one donation can potentially save three lives.
Bill O’Connell may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org