January is National Blood Donor Month, but that isn't the only time blood donation centers need your help. In fact, it's quite the opposite.
After the holiday season, blood supplies tend to drop, potentially putting healthcare providers behind the pace for providing blood in necessary procedures like heart surgeries, organ transplants, and cancer treatments.
Blood donation centers have taken a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic because people are more focused on staying inside and avoiding social contact with others. With that in mind, fewer people are keeping blood donation at the top of their to-do list. To make matters worse, many large blood drive events were canceled because of school and business closures and social distancing protocols.
The problem is that there are plenty of people out there who need your donation to survive. Pop-up blood drives in unique venues like arenas and museums have helped generate more donations for Bloodworks Northwest, but there's still an overwhelming need for your help.
Bloodworks Northwest is asking for donations to replenish blood supplies to a sufficient amount to give to those in need. Type-O blood is especially valuable because it's given to patients who need blood in emergency situations or when other types of blood are in low supply. Anyone who is at least 18 years old and at least 110 pounds can donate blood every 56 days.
Bloodworks donation centers have adapted to make the donation process as safe for everyone as possible. You can only donate by appointment, masks are required, and the donation centers are socially distanced to space donors apart from each other. No visitors or people under 16 years old are allowed during appointments.
If you've been vaccinated for COVID-19, you do not need to wait to donate. You can safely donate the same day.
In addition to the pandemic safety protocols, Bloodworks Northwest has some other recommendations for your donation day:
- Stay hydrated.
- Eat a healthy meal before your visit.
- Budget about an hour of your time. You won't be in the donation chair for that long because the actual donation only takes about 10 minutes. The No. 1 reason people choose not to donate blood is a fear of needles, but Bloodworks Northwest assures you that the impact of those 10 minutes of your time will make a profound impact on the lives of others.
Be Community Ready
Scarcity in blood supply affects preparedness for emergencies, just like the current pandemic or major trauma. Someone in a car accident could require 50 or more units of blood. It's the blood on the shelf that has been donated, collected, tested, and processed that saves lives. For that reason, Bloodworks Northwest, which provides blood to over 95% of Pacific Northwest hospitals, encourages habitual donations rather than one-time acts of generosity. Consistent donations will keep blood supplies high so healthcare professionals are prepared for times of high demand.
Click here to schedule an appointment to donate. Volunteering or donating for research is also an important part of the blood donation process. If you'd like to get involved, click here to see how you can help.