- By Laurel Kelly
Consumer Health: The lifesaving gift of blood donation
January is National Blood Donor Month, which makes this a good time to learn more about blood donation.
Each year, millions of people need a blood transfusion, and the need knows no season. Some may need blood during surgery. Others depend on it after an accident or because they have a disease that requires blood components. Blood donation makes all of this possible. There is no substitute for human blood. All transfusions use blood from a donor.
Several types of blood donation meet different medical needs. The most common type is whole blood donation. About a pint of whole blood is donated, and the blood is then separated into its components: red cells, plasma and platelets.
Donated blood is tested to determine the blood type and rhesus, or Rh, factor — both of which determine the best match for a blood donation recipient. It's also tested for bloodborne diseases, such as hepatitis, HIV and syphilis.
Learn more about the lifesaving gift of blood donation.