GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - January is Blood Donor Awareness month, but the American Red Cross says blood supply is dangerously low, causing hospitals to delay critical care until more units can become available.
Every two seconds, someone in the country is in need of a blood or platelet donation, according to the Red Cross.
This year, the Red Cross has a suggestion for any New Year’s resolutions.
“Give one more time in 2022 than you have in the past,” said regional CEO Barry Porter.
Every eight weeks, up to six times a month, you can roll up your sleeve to help save lives.
“You are in the donor bed 15 to 20 minutes after arriving,” said Porter. “You’re only in the donor bed 10 to 15 minutes because that [donation] process only take about 8 to 10 minutes.”
Once your blood donation is collected in the East, the unit and a test tube vial, both labeled with matching barcodes, journey west.
The unit kept cold in Durham and the test tube is sent to Charlotte to be processed. After undergoing a series of tests, the donation is cleared for distribution about 24 to 48 hours after submission.
“Say we donated at 8:00 in the morning,” explained Porter. “The unit of blood probably won’t be available until about 4:00 tomorrow afternoon. When that happens, we can’t wait until an emergency happens and then ask for blood.”
Banks like to keep a few days of supply, but recently, they are experiencing the lowest donations volumes in years.
While blood units are used often in trauma situations such as surgeries, wrecks, or acts of violence, the majority of blood donations go to cancer patients.
“About 1 in every 5 units of blood, actually goes to cancer patients,” said Porter. “If you think about it in your life, you probably know more people who have cancer, who have battled cancer, than you know who have been in a car accident or have been in a traumatic situation.”
One donation goes a long way, saving up to three adult lives.
To be eligible to donate, you must be 16 years-old with parental consent or 17 years-old and up. You are to be in good general health, hydrated, and fed.
After your donation, you’ll want to avoid heavy lifting and stop for a treat at the Red Cross’ canteens on your way out the door.
In honor of National Blood Donor Month, the Red Cross has partnered with the NFL, automatically entering anyone who donated in January 2022 to win a trip to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles.