Someone in the United States needs blood every 2 seconds. Heather, who lives in Dallas, Texas, has needed many blood transfusions to treat sickle cell disease. This disease, which affects more than 100,000 people nationally, can cause pain and other serious complications. Sometimes Heather had to wait a long time for the right blood. Once, she even came close to dying when it took more than 48 hours to get the blood she needed.
Heather’s story is featured in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services campaign that I helped launch last year called Giving = Living. The campaign raises awareness about the importance of blood donation and encourages Americans to donate regularly. Watch Heather tell her story and thank the blood donors who gave her, as she says, new life.
Blood transfusions don’t just help treat sickle cell disease. Blood is also needed for surgeries, serious injuries, cancer treatments, childbirth, severe anemia, and more. And that’s why a steady, ongoing supply of blood is crucial.
Earl, a veteran and motivational speaker from Pennsylvania, also shares his story of receiving blood after he was wounded while serving in Afghanistan.
Although all Americans are encouraged to donate, it is especially important for people from diverse backgrounds to roll up their sleeves. This is because some people have rare blood types, and it is important to have compatible blood available to them.
In addition, people who get blood transfusions to treat certain blood disorders, such as sickle cell disease, can need a more precise match than other blood recipients. In these cases, the more closely matched a unit of blood is, the less likely it is that an individual will have an adverse reaction. Having a large, diverse pool of blood donors ensures that all patients will have access to the blood they need, when they need it.
There is no substitute for blood, so in honor of National Blood Donor Month this January, I hope you will join me in spreading the word about the importance of blood donation. Just one donation can save up to three lives. The simple, generous act of giving blood helps patients like Heather and Earl get the blood transfusions they need.
If you are eligible to donate blood, then I encourage you to make an appointment to donate today—then donate again and again to ensure there is a steady, ongoing supply to help those in need. Visit the Giving = Living website to find a donation center near you. On this website you can also learn about the blood donation process and get answers to common questions and concerns.
If you are not eligible to donate blood, then there are still many ways to help. You can help us find more blood donor heroes by promoting the campaign. From hosting a blood drive to sharing campaign materials on your social media feed or in your community, there are many ways we can all be involved. Let’s celebrate the lifesaving act of giving blood. The more donors there are, the more lives we can save.