January has been designated as National Blood Donor Month (NBDM) to encourage donors to give or pledge to give blood. First-time and regular donors are encouraged to make a difference in their communities by giving blood every January, and regularly thereafter. Blood is traditionally in short supply during the holidays, especially since the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
“National Blood Donor Month is going to take on a new significance,” said Pat Michaels, Director of Media and Public Relations for OneBlood. “Last year the blood centers around the states had radical changes in their processes due to COVID. Blood drives by the thousands had to be cancelled, which led to the need for blood to increase dramatically.”
OneBlood relies heavily on local blood drives to replenish their blood supplies. With the pandemic forcing businesses, high schools and universities to shut down, their supplies dwindled.
“We rely on corporate blood drives and other local blood drives,” Michaels said. “Twenty percent of our blood supplies comes from blood drives held at local high schools and college campuses. That was a massive drop immediately. We had to regroup and restructure how we do blood drive. We started going to HOA’s and working with local election offices to have blood drives during the recent presidential election so we could get donors to help us. We had to pivot quickly because OneBlood serves 250 hospitals in the Southeast and that’s an awesome responsibility that has to happen 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
During NBDM, OneBlood also wants to encourage donors to donate convalescent plasma to help those who are infected with COVID-19.
“We are currently processing and distributing convalescent to hospitals,” Michaels. “We also do the testing for COVID antibodies. Doing this helped us regain donors. We had people come in and donate who have never donated before in their lives.”
Michaels hopes that people will come out for NBDM and help OneBlood by donating blood or convalescent plasma.
“We hope National Blood Donor Month will make a strong impact this year,” Michaels said. “Now more than ever, we need blood donations and convalescent donations. All it takes is a little bit of your time to save lives.”
If you would like to learn more about National Blood Donor Month or if you would like to donate blood or convalescent plasma, you can visit OneBlood’s website at www.oneblood.org.