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By Joan Hellyer Staff Writer Bucks County Courier Times | Updated 12/31/14
This month marks the 45th annual National Blood Donor Month.
“It’s to educate everyone about the importance of being a blood donor and the impact blood donations can have on patients who need blood,” Red Cross spokesman Colin Riccobon said. “(January) is a good time to thank blood donors for their generosity and encourage individuals to roll up their sleeves to donate blood or platelets and help save a life on a regular basis.”
Jim DeLucia, of Northampton, said he donates blood five or six times a year. His latest contribution came Tuesday night during a blood drive at the Newtown Athletic Club in Newtown Township.
“I like knowing it will be helping someone out and it can save lives,” DeLucia said.
The Penn-Jersey operation of the American Red Cross covers Southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey and is responsible for coordinating blood drives throughout the region, including in Bucks and Montgomery counties.
“In our area, the Red Cross needs to collect approximately 1,200 units (of donated blood) on a daily basis to maintain a stable blood supply,” Riccobon said. “The Red Cross has the unique responsibility to ensure that blood is available where it’s needed, when it’s needed.”
Donors of all blood types are always needed, especially those who have O negative, A negative and B negative blood types, the spokesman said. Blood donations have a 42-day shelf life.
Maureen Rastetter, of Wrightstown, has been donating her O negative blood for more than 40 years — and did so again Tuesday night at the NAC.
“Most people don’t like needles, because needles don’t feel good,” said Rastetter, a retired emergency room nurse. “But it’s just like having your blood drawn (for testing). If you are able to get through the initial stick, you should be OK.”
The winter months can be a challenge to meeting the daily goal of 1,200 units of donated blood, Riccobon said.
“Unpredictable winter weather can result in blood drive cancellations, and seasonal illnesses, like the flu, may cause some donors to be unable to make or keep blood donation appointments,” he said.
Last year’s brutal winter made it especially difficult to keep up a stable blood supply, the spokesman said.
“It seemed that weather impacted the country and region almost every week, which resulted in the cancellation of blood drives,” Riccobon said. “The Red Cross (handled) the difficult challenge of ensuring a stable blood supply thanks to the commitment and determination of donors.”
Want to help?
To schedule an appointment to donate blood, go to redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
People who donate in January will receive a voucher for a pound of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee as part of the “Give a pint, get a pound” partnership between the American Red Cross and Dunkin’ Donuts, said agency spokesman Colin Riccobon.