Saturday, 13 January 2018 08:11

OP ED: National Blood Donor Month Observed in January

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OP ED: National Blood Donor Month Observed in January Supplied photo

Since 1970, National Blood Donor Month has been observed in January. During this month, organizations like the American Red Cross use this as an opportunity to raise awareness on the importance of blood donation and to recognize the lifesaving acts of donors.

January is selected for two reasons. First, during January fewer people donate because of the cold and flu season and inclement weather. Second, given that many people make resolutions in January, the American Red Cross hopes people will consider making a New Year’s resolution to become regular blood donors.

Hospitals need blood and blood platelet donations in the winter as much as they do during any other time of year. Most commonly we think of blood donations being used in surgeries or to assist victims of severe trauma. For example, up to 100 pints may be needed for a single car accident victim. Blood donations, however, are also used by patients suffering from other illnesses or diseases such as cancer. Donated blood is needed for leukemia and other cancer patients who often experience low blood cell counts, require surgeries for cancer treatment, or require transfusions during treatment for other medical reasons. As a result, many cancer patients rely on regular transfusions.

Unfortunately, with more than 1 million new people diagnosed with cancer each year, much more blood is needed. The American Red Cross estimates it needs to collect about 15,000 pints of blood each day to meet patients’ needs at about 2,600 hospitals nationwide. In addition to cancer treatment, transfusions are also needed for premature babies, those who undergo organ transplants, and bone marrow recipients.

The American Red Cross hopes more people will consider attending an upcoming drive. An estimated 38% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate however less than 10% actually roll up a sleeve to give. The need for blood is constant because blood and platelets have a limited shelf life. Red blood cells must be used within 42 days of collection and platelets have a shelf life of just 5 days. After blood is collected, it is screened and undergoes multiple tests to ensure patient safety. Blood is tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C, and other infectious diseases before it can be released to hospitals. Blood type O is most often requested by hospitals. Type O negative blood is the universal donor and can be transfused to patients of all blood types but all blood types are needed. To find an upcoming blood drive nearby, visit and enter your zip code.

Note: Next week I will continue discussing the new federal tax law and its impact on New York. Some technical issues this week forced me to delay sharing my thoughts on this important matter. If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185. You may also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.

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