As 2021 came to an end, the American Red Cross raised the alarm that it was experiencing the worst blood shortage in more than 10 years.
The organization said in a news release that in addition to donors skipping donations due to feeling sick, blood drives were affected throughout the year by people working from home instead of at the office, limitations on the number of people allowed at workplaces and schools, and misinformation about donor eligibility after being vaccinated against COVID-19.
January is National Blood Donor Month and it’s more important than ever for those who can donate blood to do so. According to the Red Cross, one donation can save up to three lives. Additionally, someone in the United States needs blood or platelets every two seconds – that’s 21 million blood components that are transfused every year.
Unfortunately, there is a misconception that people can’t donate blood if they’re older, which prevents many who would like to donate – including those receiving healthcare at home – from doing so.
In reality, there is no maximum age restriction for being a blood donor. However, there are a few things to keep in mind if you are older and thinking about donating blood.
- Make sure you meet the weight requirement – donors need to weigh at least 110 pounds.
- Don’t donate when you’re sick or if you’ve recently recovered. If you’ve had a cold or flu-like symptoms, donating blood could make your illness come back or get worse.
- Some states have additional restrictions for blood donors. Call your local blood bank to check if you need a doctor’s note if you’re above a certain age.
- If you’re not sure whether you are healthy enough to donate, call your doctor and ask.
- Before you donate, be sure to eat a light meal and drink plenty of fluids, and don’t forget to bring along your ID and a list of medications you’re taking.
- Donation perk: Donors receive a mini health screening that includes checking your pulse, temperature, blood pressure, and hemoglobin.
If you’re not eligible or don’t feel comfortable donating, there are other ways you can make a difference. Contact your local blood bank to get involved. Here are some ways you can contribute and support this lifesaving work.
- Volunteer to recruit donors in your area by calling prior donors and by promoting scheduled blood drives.
- Volunteer to help on donation days. You can greet donors and register them for their donation.
- Volunteer to host or organize a blood drive.
- Donate or raise money to support blood donation efforts in your area.
- Volunteer to transport blood. Collected blood needs to get to labs for testing and to local hospitals for distribution.
- Encourage friends and loved ones to donate blood if they can.
A quarter of us will need blood at some point in our lives. Donate during National Blood Donation Month if you can. You may depend on others to do the same for you or your family someday.
Do you have questions regarding blood donation? Contact Intrepid USA Healthcare Services for more information.