January is National Blood Donor Month and right now there is an urgent need for donors of all blood types to offset a serious shortage. According to the American Red Cross, there were 28,000 fewer donations than what was needed in November and December. Additionally, severe winter weather has forced more than 150 blood drives to cancel, resulting in 5,500 blood donations to go uncollected.1
The Red Cross needs more than 13,000 donations every day to supply 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers that need blood for their patients.2 Accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease all require blood to help save their lives.
About 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood at any given moment—but less than 10 percent actually do.3
How can you encourage your patients to donate? Use your patient communication system to let patients know how critical the need is. As you’re creating emails, texts or voice messages, here are answers to five commonly asked questions you may want to include in your communications:
- Where do I go to donate? – Many people may be willing to donate but don’t know where to go. Look on the American Red Cross website for a list of locations near you, including dates and times when people can go to donate.
- Am I eligible to donate? – Donors must be healthy, at least 17 years old and weigh at least 110 pounds.
- How long does it take to donate? – The Red Cross estimates donating blood takes about an hour, which includes four easy steps: medical history, quick physical, donation and snacks.
- What do I need to do before my donation? – Eat a healthy meal, drink an extra 16 ounces of water and get a good night’s sleep before the donation. Don’t forget to bring a driver’s license or another form of ID.
- What do I need to do after my donation? – Following a donation, you should continue to drink water throughout the day and eat a healthy meal or snack. Also try not to exert yourself and avoid exercising or heavy lifting.
Blood drives supply 80 percent all blood donations.4 If you’re interested in hosting a mobile blood drive, contact your local Red Cross and then promote the event on your practice website or in your on-hold messages. You can also encourage donations through your website and social media. Click here to download a messaging toolkit for images, email templates and sample posts you can start using today.
Did you know that just one pint of donated blood can help save as many as three people’s lives?5 Remember, it only takes an hour to save a life. What better reason could there be to donate?
Read this blog for more ideas on how your community involvement can also help you promote your practice.
1 American Red Cross, “Red Cross blood shortage prompts urgent call for blood and platelet donations during National Blood Donor Month,” Jan. 8, 2018.
3 American Red Cross, “Facts about the blood supply.”
4 American Red Cross, “Facts about American Red Cross Blood Services.”
5 American Red Cross, “Facts about blood needs.”