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Why the winter months are critical for blood donations

Between school closures, holiday travel, and more, blood supply drops during the winter months cause a need for increased donations.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — January is National Blood Donor Month and a critical time for the American Red Cross when it comes to the need for donations. 

Between family gatherings, travel, and school closures during the holiday season, blood donations aren’t typically at the top of mind for most Pennsylvanians. 

Bad weather this time of year also leads to more cancellations and rescheduling of blood drives, as does cold and flu season.

Lisa Landis with the American Red Cross Greater Pennsylvania Region tells FOX43 that this combination can sometimes leave the Red Cross at a tipping point. 

“If we were facing critically low supplies on the shelf, we would be doing a major push and appeal," she said. "We don’t want to get to that point, so this is where we’re encouraging everyone to come out and donate.”

This is exactly what happened in January of 2022, when the American Red Cross declared its first-ever national blood crisis. The crisis resulted from the aforementioned factors plus complications of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While the need this January is not as severe, it’s something the Red Cross hopes to avoid in the future.

“We like to start the year out strong, January’s a great time to continue that giving spirit. This is why we need to see donors come out if they’re feeling healthy and well," says Landis.

The Red Cross collects about 40% of the nation’s blood supply. Landis says that while no one plans to be in an accident, it’s important that the blood product is available for when those emergencies do happen.

“Every two seconds in the United States someone is in need of blood. If you look at patients going to the hospital, it’s in fact one in every seven will require a blood transfusion," she says.

That’s why blood drives that FOX43 and the American Red Cross continue to host are crucial to keeping the blood supply up. This is often where repeat donors come out as people are able to donate every 56 days.

Landis says it just takes one blood donation to save up to three lives, something that can be multiplied as more people attend blood drives.

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