January is National Blood Donor Month, and the need for blood is particularly dire right now, according to the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center. The need is particularly urgent for O negative blood. O negative is known as the universal blood type and is especially important in emergencies and trauma situations.
The blood center is featuring “Texas Strong” as the theme for National Blood Donor Month, to build on the community’s response to blood donation needs following devastating events such as hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, and tragedies in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs.
“Our South Texas communities stepped up to donate during difficult times in 2017,” STBTC associate medical director Dr. Samantha Gomez Ngamsuntikul said. “Unfortunately, as time passes, people get back to their routines and tend to forget that the need for lifesaving blood continues."
National Blood Donor Month comes at a time when blood donations are at low levels because of holiday events and travel, as well as school closures. Approximately 30 percent of STBTC’s collections come from drives at high schools and colleges.
To remind the community of the continued need for blood donations and to promote the “Texas Strong” message, the Alamo Quarry Market is lighting its iconic smokestacks in red through January 8. Other local organizations wishing to show support are encouraged to display signage and/or light their buildings in red.
Volunteers who donate at South Texas Blood & Tissue Center donor rooms or at mobile drives during the month of January will receive a “Texas Strong” T-shirt while supplies last.
While STBTC collects more than 150,000 blood donations a year, many volunteers give more than once, so the number of actual donors is smaller. Nationally, only four percent of the population donates blood. About 80 percent of the blood collected is donated at 3,000 mobile/bus drives held across 43 counties in Central and South Texas.
Donors are encouraged to visit the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center's website to find a blood drive near them or to schedule an appointment. STBTC also offers donor rooms:
- Donor Pavilion, 6211 Interstate 10 West at First Park Ten Boulevard
- Northeast Donor Room, 8527 Village Drive, Suite 106
- Shavano Donor Room, 4079 N. Loop 1604 West, Suite 102
- Southeast Donor Room, 3158 SE Military Drive, Suite 104
- Westover Hills Donor Room, 10555 Culebra Road, Suite 107
- New Braunfels Donor Room, 651 N. Business Interstate 35, Suite 830
- Victoria Donor Room, 1109 Sam Houston Drive, Victoria, TX 77901
All donors are required to have a photo ID. Anyone who is 16 years old and weighs at least 120 pounds (with parental consent form), or 17 years old and weighs at least 110 pounds and is in good general health may donate blood.