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January Is National Blood Donor Month: How You Can Help

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First Posted: 01/04/11 08:32 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:20 PM ET

Even if temperatures are below zero. Even if the streets aren't plowed. Even if hot chocolate and s'mores are the only things on your agenda this weekend.

Giving blood should be added to your to-do list this month, blood banks say.

January is National Blood Donor Month, an especially crucial time to give, as donations are dangerously low.

Blood drives across the country see drops in donations during the winter months -- a challenge for blood banks since the shelf life of blood is so short, according to MLive.com.

Colleen O'Callaghan, a donor recruitment representative from the American Red Cross, told MLIve.com:

"We have to consistently recycle. If we don't have a good collection every single day we could have a hospital underserved...Every 12 seconds someone in the United States needs some sort of blood transfusion. One donation can help up to three people."

According the American Red Cross, donations take about 8-10 minutes, depending on the donation type. Donating platelets, red cells or plasma can take longer.

On Monday, WBNG in New York reported on the process, and the time it takes after giving to save a life:

[The blood] is shipped off to be tested and then it gets separated into plasma, platelets, and red blood cells. Then the blood is tested and once it shows to be clean, it is distributed to hospitals...After you have donated blood the process takes about three days before it is used to save lives.

WATCH:

Regional promotions, like in New York and Pennsylvania, are giving potential donors extra incentive to give this winter season. Give a Pint. Get a Pound offers a pound of Dunkin' Donuts Coffee to volunteer blood donors through the month of January -- a thank you for literally giving of themselves to help those in need.

Read more about the month for donating at the American Red Cross and schedule a blood donation appointment today.

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Filed by Lauren Sullivan  |