Blood in Short Supply During Holidays

December slowest month with greatest need, experts say

FRIDAY, Dec. 24, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- In the spirit of holiday giving, you might consider donating blood.

December is typically the slowest month for blood donations, but it's also the time of year when it's critical to have an adequate supply of blood, according to Kathy Finch, clinical operations director of the Duke University Hospital emergency department.

There are a number of reasons why blood donations slow to a trickle in December.

"Everybody's busy, caught up in their own plans, traveling to see family and friends," Finch said in a prepared statement.

"Also, there are weather changes, and we're heading into the flu season. But the fact is, these are also times when we have exacerbation of diseases that need to have blood to support them. Also, with all the travel, it's not uncommon to see more accidents and associated trauma injuries," she said.

Giving blood is a quick and simple process. To give blood, you have to be at least 17 years old, should weigh at least 110 pounds, be in good health, and can't have donated blood within the previous 56 days.

If you have any questions about whether it's safe for you to give blood, consult with your doctor, Finch advised.

"If you give a pint of blood, theoretically you can save up to three lives. This is because different components in the blood can be used to treat different conditions. They can use blood components in different ways to help trauma patients, persons with bleeding disorders, surgery patients and others who need blood. The donation isn't just one pint per one patient per one life. It has a lot more impact than that," Finch said.

More information

The American Medical Association has more about blood donation.

SOURCE: Duke University, news release, Dec. 23, 2004
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