Help the healing process with a blood donation

The start of the new year marks National Blood Donor Month, a time to both celebrate those who generously roll up a sleeve to keep blood products stocked for hospitals providing critical care and encourage more of us to do likewise. The confluence of exhaustion after a busy holiday season, the rise of seasonal illness and threats of severe winter weather annually render January a tough time for donors to make and keep appointments.

But the need for blood doesn’t go into hibernation.

According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood, 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. Blood and platelet donations are critically needed to help prevent delays in vital medical treatments. Type O+ is most prized because it can be given to patients of all blood types. But everyone’s contribution can be used to renew someone’s lease on life.

This time last year, the American Red Cross had declared its first-ever national blood crisis due to a severe blood shortage resulting from complications of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully conditions have since improved. Unlike supplies of personal protective equipment that can be stockpiled, however, blood can only come from volunteer blood donors and must be constantly replenished due to its short shelf life.

The next local Red Cross-sponsored blood drives with spots available as of press time are

• 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25, at American Legion Post 1941, 900 S. La Grange Road, La Grange.

• 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8, at the Oak Brook Public Library, 600 Oak Brook Road.

Visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS for more information or to check for updates and additions to the schedule. As an inducement, donors often receive gifts or become eligible for special prizes. Case in point — those who give blood, platelets or plasma during the month of January at Red Cross drive will be automatically entered to win a trip for two to Super Bowl LVII in Phoenix, Ariz., Feb. 10-13, airfare and three-night accommodations included, plus a $500 gift card for expenses.

Hinsdale residents also have two nearby locations to make blood donations year-round, namely Versiti at 6317 Fairview Ave. (, and Vitalant at 1133 Fairview Ave. ( — both in Westmont.

Donors should 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. And wear a mask. 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.