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Get Involved: National Blood Donor Month

In 1970, then-President Richard Nixon declared January National Blood Donor Month in the United States, and it has been celebrated every January since. With each donation helping to save three lives, we encourage everyone who is able to donate blood this month!
Get Involved: National Blood Donor Month

by Katherine Durgin-Bruce

January 10, 2019

Around the world, more than 112 million units of blood are needed every year. Because blood and blood components are perishable, the supply must be replenished regularly by donors in the community where they are needed. Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. The biggest blood shortages in the United States occur in December and January after the holidays, and in June and July over the summer. 

More Facts and Figures About Blood Donation:

  • Less than 10% of eligible people donate blood every year.
  • 45% of blood donors are fifty years old and older. Younger donors are greatly needed as older donors age out of eligibility.
  • Each blood donation can save the lives of three people.
  • 21 million units of blood components are needed every year in the United States.
  • Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood.
  • Donors can donate blood every fifty-six days in the United States.
  • Donating blood takes less than an hour including registration, health check, donation, and snack. The donation itself takes just about five to fifteen minutes.

Wondering what more you can do to support blood donors and blood recipients? Start with these resources, then check out our interview with Suzanne Brown, a recent blood donor.


The NHS’ Date 2 Donate: The Series, where you can watch the Hamilton cast and famous musicians and actors make a date to donate blood, and discuss the importance of blood donation 
+ BBC Earth Lab’s very informative video on How Does Blood Donation Work?
+ American Red Cross portraits of people helped by blood donations
+ The NHS’ video on “What happens to blood donations after they leave your arm?


Blood: The Stuff of Life, by Lawrence Hill, for a social and scientific overview of blood and its role in history and biology
+ Nine Pints: A Journey through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of Blood, by Rose George


The American Red Cross’ First Time Donors page to find out what to expect, how to get ready, and why your donation is so important
+ WHO’s 10 Facts on Blood Transfusion
+ James Harrison, an Australian man who donated blood for sixty-two years, and helped 2.4 million babies


Kids in K–8 about the importance of blood donation with resources from the Red Cross through their Pint Size Hero and Future Blood Donor programs 
+ Kid’s Health’s Donating Blood Information for Teens 
+ Brainpop Educator’s Lesson Plans for K–12 about blood and the human body


In New York City, donate blood at a New York Blood Center
+ Around the world, volunteer to donate blood at a Red Cross


Illustration by Marina Csomor / Ultravirgo

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