The new year is a great time to become a regular blood donor. Not only is January National Blood Donor Month, it can be a difficult time for blood banks. Between the holidays, bad weather, and cold and flu season, donations tend to slow down over the winter months.
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Every 10 minutes, a Mayo Clinic patient needs a blood transfusion. Dr. Justin Kreuter, medical director of the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Center, says with that constant demand, they need about 100 donors per day just to maintain the blood supply.
"Every day, we need a whole lot of people to take an hour out of their day, roll up their sleeve and donate blood so that our family members can live, our community members can live, patients that we're never going to meet in our lives can fight their cancer," says Dr. Kreuter.
Keeping the inventories stocked isn't the only challenge blood banks are facing.
"It's really important that we build diversity into our blood donor community," says Dr. Kreuter.
He explains that there are some patients with certain blood types who are best matched by donors from the same ethnic background.
"By having diversity in the blood donor community, having diversity in the blood that's on our shelves, if there's somebody in our community that needs that blood rapidly, we're more likely to find a safe and compatible unit for them," Dr. Kreuter says.