New Jersey Department of Health

PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
January 8, 2016

Cathleen D. Bennett
Acting Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

New Jersey Department of Health Recognizes National Blood Donor Month By Encouraging Residents to Make a Difference through Blood Donation

Every January, National Blood Donor Month provides people an opportunity to roll up their sleeves and donate blood or pledge to give blood at a time of the year when this lifesaving resource is typically in short supply. As winter sets in, blood donations typically decrease due to unpredictable weather conditions that often results in blood drive cancellations. In addition, blood donations normally decline during the busy end-of-year holidays, so blood centers and hospital collection sites often face shortages at the beginning of the New Year.

"Donors can make a significant difference in people's lives by giving blood," said Acting Health Commissioner Cathleen D. Bennett. "National Blood Donor Month is an excellent time to start the year on a positive note and make blood donation a New Year's resolution. There is always a need for blood and every donation is important to building a healthy and reliable blood supply."

Nine out of 10 people will need blood at some time in their lives due to illness, to treat an injury or during surgery. There is no artificial substitute for blood. A single unit of blood from one donor can save up to three lives.

Whole blood donation is the most common type of blood donation. However, New Jersey's blood centers are encouraging donors to explore a range of donation options by contacting the nearest blood center and asking what the greatest needs are for donations at a given time.

Whole blood donation, the most common type of blood donation, usually takes about an hour, though the actual donation takes about 8-10 minutes during which approximately a pint of "whole blood" is given. People are eligible to donate whole blood every 56 days.

Another option is donating platelets - a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, burn victims and bone marrow recipients. Unlike whole blood, which has a shelf life of 42 days, platelets must be transfused within five days of donation, so hospitals must have a steady supply on hand. Platelets can be donated every seven days up to 24 times a year.

Plasma is the clear, straw-colored liquid portion of blood that remains after red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and other cellular component are removed. Plasma is often used in trauma situations, and it is the essential starting material used in the manufacture of therapies that help thousands of people worldwide with rare, chronic diseases to live healthier, productive lives.

A fourth option is double red cell donation, which is similar to whole blood donation except a special machine is used to allow the donor to safely donate two units of red blood cells in one donation while receiving back the platelets and plasma. This procedure lets the donor give more of that portion of the blood that is needed most by patients.

National Blood Donor Month has been observed every January since 1970 to raise awareness of the need for blood during the winter and throughout the year. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may donate blood in New Jersey. To learn more about blood donation and to find a blood center near you, visit

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