Did you know that January is "National Blood Donor Month"? Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the American Red Cross has been saying that with fewer people donating blood for multiple reasons, the national blood supply has continued to dwindle. It hasn't gotten any better and now, according to a release, the American Red Cross is saying that the blood supplies are so low that it's "Critical" and donors are needed NOW.

I recently spoke with Hanna Malak who is the Regional Donor Services Executive of the American Red Cross of Western New York. He shared with me how critical the need is right now and some interesting facts about blood donations. Malak says that the national blood supply is the lowest it's been in over a decade since people were busy during the holidays, traveling, or perhaps hindered by winter weather and didn't get to blood donation events.

Blood donations are needed daily for several reasons but when it comes to accident victims, hospitals rely on donations that take place around 5 days BEFORE an accident occurs. Malak explains that the reason for that is blood needs to be tested and separated into different components following a blood donation. In addition, certain components of blood expire quickly. That's why blood donations are needed almost every day.

The American Red Cross is pleading with area residents to seek out a blood drive nearby and give the gift of life which can save up to three lives. Because the need for blood is so critical right now, the Red Cross is offering a big incentive. Those who donate blood this month will have a chance to win some great prizes: a getaway to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles, a home theater package, or a $500 e-gift card. Those prizes are certainly wonderful but the best prize of all is the feeling you get when you donate blood, knowing that you are saving lives.

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If you're not sure if you are eligible to give blood, no worries. You can just call 1-800-RED-CROSS and talk to someone who can help you figure that out. Get more info and schedule an appointment online at www.redcrossblood.org, or by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

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