According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds someone in America needs a blood transfusion. That means over 38,000 individuals need to utilize donated blood on any given day, yet only three out of every 100 people give blood. And since blood only has a shelf life of 42 days, even those who donate regularly cannot keep supply levels stable, even if they donate the maximum limit of six times a year, or every 56 days.

And at this time of year, supplies are at their lowest levels due to inclement weather and seasonal illnesses that prohibit donors from contributing. To help bring more awareness to this cause, each January since 1970 has been designated National Blood Donor Month in recognition of those who have donated. The awareness program is also designed to educate new donors on the simplicity of donating blood.

Those eligible to give blood much be 17 years of age or older and weigh at least 110 pounds. The process is easy and only takes an hour of your time. There are several restrictions for those who should not donate blood and the information can be found on the American Red Cross Web site.

A pint of blood can save up to three lives, giving a donor the opportunity to save up to 18 lives a year. Saving a life is a precious gift, so please do your part today by visiting to find a local Red Cross near you to donate. Even if you cannot donate, you can still help by planning a blood drive in your community. Also, do not forget to thank a donor this month.

As the American Red Cross says, "The need is constant. The gratification instant. Give Blood."

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