Get new year flowing with a blood donation

According to the American Red Cross, the country is experiencing an emergency blood shortage as it faces the lowest number of people giving blood in 20 years.

With January’s designation as National Blood Donor Month, this is the perfect time to help address this critical situation with a donation of blood and/or platelets to help alleviate the shortage and help ensure lifesaving medical procedures are not put on hold.

“One of the most distressing situations for a doctor is to have a hospital full of patients and an empty blood bank without any blood on the shelves. Doctors often can’t operate without blood available to make surgeries, medical procedures and treatments possible,” said Dr. Eric Gehrie, executive physician director for the Red Cross, in a statement issued by the organization.

Over the last 20 years, Red Cross statistics reveal that the number of people donating blood to the Red Cross has fallen by about 40 percent. When fewer people donate blood, even small disruptions to blood donations — such as the nearly 7,000-unit shortfall in blood donations the Red Cross experienced between Christmas and New Year’s Day alone – can have a huge impact on the availability of blood products and dramatic consequences for those in need of emergency blood transfusion. Blood products are currently going to hospitals faster than blood donations are coming in, and in recent weeks, the Red Cross has had to limit distributions of type O blood products — among the most transfused blood types — to hospitals.

“More challenges lie ahead as the potential for severe winter weather and seasonal illness may compound the dire blood supply situation,” Gehrie stated. “Donors of all types – especially those with type O blood and those giving platelets – are urged to give now.”

Thankfully, residents have a opportunities nearby to share with those in need. 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. 24, at American Legion Post 1941, 900 S. La Grange Road, La Grange. Visit and type 60521 in the zip code search field to sign up for a time.

• 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Feb. 5, at the Tuthill Family Pet Rescue & Resource Center, 21 Salt Creek Lane, Hinsdale. Visit for more information or to check for updates and additions to the schedule.

As an added incentive, donors who give blood, platelets or plasma in January automatically will be entered for a chance to win a trip for two to Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas.

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

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.