Kirksville, Mo. — Close to 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood.
However, only 3 percent of people do.
In January, the American Red Cross is hoping to raise that percentage and provide blood to help save the lives of as many patients as possible.
“ Donating blood makes you feel amazing. You are helping somebody somewhere and that patient’s family and friends will appreciate that as well as the patient," said district manager Julie Pipes.
January is National Blood Donor Month.
It's a time spent thanking donors who donate blood all year round.
“ But it’s also to create an awareness of blood donations or get people back in the habit of donating blood," Pipes said.
The month of January is one of the most difficult times to maintain sufficient blood supply for patients.
“ Due to the holidays, schools are out, colleges are out, flu, mother nature tends to throw us a curve ball once in a while," said Pipes.
All of the factors result in less donations.
In an effort to increase donor turnout this time of year, 14 drives will take place this month around the Heartland.
“ It’s a very simple, easy thing to do and it makes a big difference for the patients in need," said Pipes.
No matter your blood type, you are always encouraged to give, especially universal donors.
"An O positive donation can go to an O positive, an A positive, B positive or AB positive patient. And 0 negative is universal for someone who might need blood in a trauma situation," said Pipes.
Dr. Justin Puckett at Complete Family Medicine says when most people think of blood donations they immediately think of trauma patients, but he says a majority of blood products are used elsewhere.
“Even more blood products are utilized in the maintenance of chronic diseases. Treating anemias associated with cancers," said Dr. Puckett.
You are eligible to give blood every 56 days.
You need to be in a healthy state with a hemoglobin of greater than 13.5.
If you would like to give blood but struggle with low iron levels, Dr. Puckett says the primary building blocks for making blood are vitamin B12, iron, and protein.