Giving blood a wonderful way to foster healing

Like so many facets of life since COVID-19 hit, blood drives and blood donation centers were shut down or severely restricted as a health precaution. Thankfully, those activities have resumed, and individuals are being urged in January — National Blood Donor Month — to help meet the need for blood, which the pandemic did not suppress.

Those who have recovered from COVID-19 are particularly encouraged to give blood because of the potential antibodies it contains. One step further would be a plasma donation to help address the national convalescent plasma shortage, according to the American Red Cross.

Donation rates regularly drop at the end of the year, squeezed out by people’s busy holiday schedule and travel plans. Groups often hold off hosting blood drives to avoid having to compete with all of it. Life-threatening events and emergency medical procedures, however, never take a holiday.

Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood, the organization reports, and about 4.5 million Americans would die each year without blood transfusions. Cancer patients, burn victims, people suffering from sickle cell and other diseases and those undergoing surgery are all potential recipients.

The good news: Each year an estimated 6.8 million people in the U.S. donate, yielding 13.6 million whole blood and red blood cells.

The challenging news: Only 7 percent of people in the U.S. have type O negative blood, which gave be given to patients of all blood types. So it’s always in great demand and often in short supply. Type AB positive plasma also can be transfused to patients of all blood types, but just 3 percent of Americans are AB positive, so, again, it’s at a premium.

The fact is many have no idea what blood type they are, and donating is a great way to find out. The donation process itself poses no risk of infecting a donor with coronavirus. According to guidance from the Federal Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those age 18 and older can donate if symptom free for at least 14 days. Just remember to bring a mask to the appointment.

The nearest year-round location for Hinsdale residents to donate is Versiti at 6317 Fairview Ave. in Westmont. ( For greater convenience, Versiti will be holding a mobile drive right here in town at The Community House, 415 W. Eighth St., from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28. Appointments can be made at

Try to drink plenty of caffeine-free beverages in the days leading up to the donation and remember to eat a healthy meal (low in fat and high in iron) at least two hours before. The entire process from registration to post-donation refreshments takes about an hour. And it just might be one of the most consequential hours you spend.