Since 1969, January has been recognized as National Blood Donor Month.
Used primarily as a campaign to spread awareness, NBDM has encouraged thousands of Americans to donate blood. For several reasons, winter months tend to be most critical time of the year for blood donations. However, these months also inherit the least amount of blood donations compared to the rest of the year.
First, people do not tend to donate blood during the holiday season. Due to holiday activities, vacation, and other obligations, the month of December has proven to have a significantly lower availability of donors compared to other months.
Additionally, a high percentage of people get sick from the cold or the flu during the early months of the year. According to a study published by the CDC, 16.6% of Americans dealt with sickness during the months of January to March while a mere 8.5% of Americans dealt with sickness during the months of April to June.
Another reason why winter months tend to have such a scarce number of donors is inclement weather. Oftentimes, blood drives are snowed in or cancelled, cutting off the ability for people to donate blood at near bye locations. Ultimately, this leads to a shortage of blood supply and an increased risk of a 'blood crisis.'
Next time you have the opportunity to donate, remember that each whole blood donation has the ability to save up to three lives. Consider finding blood drive locations near you and check out redcrossblood.org for more information!