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Do your part and donate blood

Sarah Wassner Flynn is a New York City-based writer. She's contributed to magazines such as CosmoGIRL!, National Geographic Kids, Runner's World, Women's Health, Prevention and MetroSports New York. She is also the author of The Book of ...

Give blood & save lives

January may be National Blood Donor month, but the necessity for blood lasts all year long. According to the American Red Cross, someone in the US needs blood every two seconds, yet less than 1 in 10 Americans regularly donate. A scary fact considering that as America's population continues to age, the need for blood will be climbing. So, what can you do to help alleviate the blood shortage? Roll up your sleeve and donate this year.

Woman donating blood

Why donate blood?

Why not? What takes mere minutes out of your day can improve someone's health for a lifetime. In fact, one pint of blood (the standard measurement for donation) can save up to three lives. As long as you're at least 17 years old, weigh more than 110 pounds and do not have a chronic condition like high blood pressure or diabetes, you are eligible to give blood. And though Types O and Type B blood are the most coveted (as they are generally the most rare), every type of blood is desired for the many patients needing blood this year.

You can donate throughout the year

You may think giving blood once a year at your local blood drive is plenty, but you can actually donate every two months (56 days, to be exact) as long as you are healthy and fit into the weight and age parameters. That doesn't mean you have to run out and donate every other month, but if all blood donors gave three times a year, the effort would rapidly decrease the blood shortage plaguing the health industry.

Who benefits from your blood donations?

Wondering what happens to that pint of blood after you donate? With such a huge need for blood in this country, chances are your blood isn't just sitting on a shelf somewhere. Aside from trauma patients, those benefiting the most out of blood donations include children being treated for cancer or those who've had heart surgery, preemies, and adults who are undergoing treatments for cancer, anemia, organ transplants, Sickle cell disease, and many other medical conditions.

Sponsor a blood drive

Already doing your part with donating? Encourage your community to get involved by sponsoring a blood drive. All you have to do is provide the location (usually a school or community center works), a crew of volunteers, and a date, and the American Red Cross will assist you in covering everything else, from the equipment to assistance in recruiting donors. For more details about sponsoring a blood drive – or to find one near you – visit the American Red Cross or call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE.

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