January is National Volunteer Blood Donor month

January is National Volunteer Blood Donor Month.  As we finish out the beginning of 2012, think about hosting a blood drive or donating individually; winter months show the lowest donation levels, and often the greatest need for donated blood.  According to Cedars Sinai’s Facebook page, only 3% of eligible donors in Los Angeles give blood regularly, the lowest rate of any major US city. Blood is traditionally in short supply during the winter months due to the holidays, travel schedules, inclement weather and illness. Cedars regularly runs contests for blood donors to win prizes, and hosted a blood drive on MLK Day this year.

Haven’t donated in a while?  You can go to the American Red Cross website to find locations, or you can donate at a local hospital.  Along with Cedars, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, and UCLA Blood and Platelet Center are but a few local hospitals with blood donation programs.  Most people can donate blood every 56 days; in most states, donors must be 17 years old, be healthy and weigh at least 110 pounds.  Can’t donate? You can volunteer to assist at blood drives by staffing reception areas or handing out juice and cookies (the good part!).

Finally, spread the word – send out the links above, so that others can get on board.  The more Los Angeles County residents (and surrounding areas) who donate, the more resilient our communities become to emergency.  Blood donation is an easy way to help your community prepare.