Did you know that every 2 seconds, someone in the United States needs blood or platelets? That comes up to over 42,000 blood products a day and over 15 million in a year. 

For the last 51 years, the U.S. has highlighted the importance of donating blood in the month of January, a time of year in which getting the needed amount of donors is most challenging. Only 3% of the U.S. population donates blood, even though about 65% are eligible, and during the cold and busy winter months, it becomes even more difficult to get that 3% to donate, let alone new donors. 

The Hormel Institute is sponsoring a blood drive with the Red Cross on Friday, January 19, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Can’t make it that day? There are still five other blood drives scheduled in Austin in the month of January. Just visit Schedule a Blood, Platelet or Plasma Donation | American Red Cross (redcrossblood.org) to find a date and time that is convenient for you and help save lives!

If you are eligible to donate blood but haven’t yet, here are some helpful facts that might make it worth your while:

  1. Blood and platelets cannot be created in a lab; they can only come from donors. We have figured out how to make artificial limbs, joints, and can even artificially regrow bone, but blood products are one thing we haven’t been able to replicate. All blood needed by patients must be donated. 
  2. Over 25% of the blood supply is used in patients who are battling cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, it was estimated that more than 1.9 million people would be diagnosed with cancer throughout 2023. Many of them will need blood during their chemotherapy treatments—and in some cases, they may need it daily.
  3. Red blood cells must be used within 42 days—and platelets must be used within just 5 days. That makes the need for blood products continuous and enormous. 
  4. 3% of people require a blood transfusion after giving birth. With over 3.6 million births in the U.S. in 2021, you can imagine how blood transfusions made a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of parents
  5. Each donation can save more than one life. The blood you donate can be separated into more than one blood product, including but not limited to red blood cells, plasma, and platelets. Just one donation can easily benefit multiple patients!
  6. Sometimes a life will depend on multiple blood donations. The average transfusion uses about 3 units of blood, but a single car accident victim can require over 100 units of blood, according to the Red Cross Foundation.
  7. Your blood type might make more of an impact than you know—but all blood types are needed. Type O negative blood is most requested by hospitals because it can be given to patients of all blood types, but only 7% of people in the U.S. are type O negative. Type AB plasma can be transfused to patients of all blood types, but only 4% in the U.S. have type AB blood. No matter what your blood type, it’s in demand. 
  8. Blood donations are needed by all kinds of patients. Blood is not only used in cancer patients, accident victims and births, it is needed for patients in all types of circumstances including surgeries, organ and bone marrow transplants, anemia, blood disorders like sickle cell disease, and many others.
  9. Donating blood might not take as long as you think. A blood donation takes about an hour from start to finish, but the actual donation itself only takes between 8 to 10 minutes. And you’ll get snacks at the end!
  10. Technology makes signing up to donate blood easy! Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information