January is National Blood Donor Month, a time when we honor the generosity of America’s blood donors and remind people about the importance of donating blood regularly for those who are able to do so. The winter months also bring on reduced donations due to increased illness from COVID-19, flu, and RSV. Additionally, winter weather can make it difficult for blood donors to make and keep donation appointments.
Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood for surgeries, cancer treatments, childbirth, anemia, serious injuries, blood disorders, and more.
To help make sure we all have blood when we need it, I helped launch the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services campaign Giving = Living. Through moving personal stories, the campaign highlights individuals who share how blood donations saved their lives during military service, accidents, medical emergencies, and chronic illnesses.
This year’s National Blood Donor Month theme is Celebrating Diversity, Inclusivity and Equity in Blood Donation. The theme emphasizes that although all Americans are encouraged to donate blood, it is especially important for people from diverse backgrounds to do so. This helps ensure that people who have rare blood types have compatible blood available to them when they need it.
And this year is the first National Blood Donor Month since the FDA’s release last year of their Final Guidance on blood and plasma donations, when they replaced the 3-month deferral for gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men with an individual risk assessment where all blood donors are asked the same questions, regardless of their identity. I believe this improves the accuracy of the risk assessment of all blood donors because all donors will be asked the same questions. I applaud the FDA for using the best available scientific evidence today to update eligibility policies, while also continuing to maintain a safe and adequate supply of blood and blood products in the United States. I also hope that this new guidance will encourage those who may have not been able to donate previously, to consider doing so under the new guidelines.
The most important thing to remember when considering donating blood is that doing so can save a life. Watch Earl’s story to learn how blood donation helped to save his life when he was severely injured by a roadside bomb, while serving in the military. Thanks to blood donors, he is still here today living a life with purpose.
Donors, especially those who donate regularly, keep our nation’s blood supply stable. Although many people donate blood after disasters, patients need blood year-round. Shortages in the nation’s blood supply can happen at any time. If you are eligible to donate blood, I encourage you to make an appointment to donate today. Donating blood just once can help save more than one life. It’s even more impactful if you can donate regularly!
I hope you will join me in spreading the message about the importance of donating blood. Visit the Giving = Living website to find a donation center near you, learn about the blood donation process, and get answers to common questions and concerns. You can also help us find more blood donor heroes. Use our campaign materials to help us get the word out.
I appreciate your help. It’s a pleasure to thank donors and supporters personally. Your efforts make a difference to millions of Americans. I am deeply appreciative of your efforts to make everyone in your community healthier.