Happy New Year! Tis the season to make New Year’s resolutions. Many of us, including me, will be making the resolution to get fit and exercise more. Another goal is to help make a positive difference in someone’s life. This means donating my blood and time to help those in need.

Blood supply is especially short during the winter season, as many people are busy with the holidays and traveling. With January being National Blood Donor Month, this is the perfect time to give blood or pledge to give blood.

Did you know a pint of donated blood can help the lives of three people? By donating blood, you can help save the life of a new mother experiencing heavy hemorrhaging after childbirth, a young child with anemia, and someone with cancer.

Woman Getting Blood DrawnWho can give blood?
There are general requirements a person must meet before being allowed to donate blood:

  • Be well and healthy.  
  • Be at least 17 years old in most states, or 16 years old with parental consent depending on state law.
  • Weigh at least 110 lbs.

How can you donate blood?
Donating blood is pretty simple. First, find a donation opportunity near you. You can search here or sign up at a local clinic or blood drive. Many blood drives and blood donation centers also accept walk-in appointments.

How can you prepare to donate blood?
If you’re a first time donor, here are some tips to make the donation process successful:

  • Make sure that you’re well hydrated before and especially after you give blood.
  • Wear comfortable clothing – something with sleeves that you can easily roll up above your elbow.
  • Get some iron into your system, especially in the weeks before your donation. Some iron-rich foods include: shrimp, broccoli, whole wheat bread, beef, strawberries and kidney beans.
  • Bring a list of medications (prescription and/or over-the-counter) you’re currently taking.
  • Don’t forget your ID. You’ll need either your donor card, driver’s license or two other forms of identification.

What other ways can you help?
If you are not eligible to donate blood, you can still help in other ways by:

  • Hosting a blood drive – Your job as a blood drive host is to help recruit potential donors and schedule appointments for them to donate blood. Hosting a blood drive offers a simple way to support your community
  • Volunteering at a blood drive – If you’re not much of a planner, you can volunteer instead at a blood drive. You’ll be helping people sign in and passing out snacks, among other duties.
  • Making a financial donation – You can also donate by making a financial contribution to the American Red Cross or similar organization.
  • Encouraging friends and family to donate blood – Sometimes word of mouth is the easiest way to get a message across. Ask your loved ones to join you in your donation efforts.

More than 41,000 blood donations are needed each day, according to the Red Cross. Hopefully this year, you can find the time and courage to join the 9.2 million American men and women who give blood to help save lives.