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National Blood Donor Month highlights need for blood donors in Central Texas

To celebrate National Blood Donor Month, We Are Blood is offering a $25 H-E-B gift card to those who donate platelets twice in January.

AUSTIN, Texas — January is recognized as National Blood Donor Month. This month, We Are Blood (WRB), the sole provider and protector of blood to more than 40 hospitals and medical facilities in Central Texas, has a critical need for blood and platelet donations for local patients.

"Starting off the year, we're seeing a significant dip in donations, which is traditional following the holiday season as people get into the regular routine of the new year. That's why there's a National Blood Donor Month of January to highlight that critical need when we see that downturn in donations. So right now is a great time to donate blood, help save a local patient life," said Nick Canedo, vice president of community engagement at We Are Blood. 

To celebrate National Blood Donor Month, WRB is offering a $25 H-E-B gift card to those who donate platelets twice in January. Also, if you donate at any WRB donor center or mobile drive, whether whole blood or platelets, you will receive a voucher for a free small sub at Thunderclouds Subs. 

Right now, WRB especially needs O-type whole blood donors and any type platelet donors to avoid shortages that put patients at risk.

"The need is especially for O-type blood donors, meaning O-positive blood type and O-negative blood type, and any blood type platelet donors," Canedo said. "Those types of donations are especially needed for trauma patients, cancer patients, surgery patients, all sorts of patients who have daily needs for blood transfusions in our community."

WRB experienced a 55% increase in the need for platelets from 2017 to 2022. During the same time period, the need for red cells, collected traditionally from whole blood donation, grew 24%.

"When you donate a regular blood donation – and the actual donation process can be as short as 15 minutes, but we only collect a very small amount of platelets. So we have a special donation process to collect more platelets from an individual during a single sitting. But that process can stretch anywhere up to two hours sometimes. But it means that you're collecting maybe one, two or even three units of platelets, depending on your physiology, which means that a lot of patients that can receive lifesaving help," Canedo said.

Some helpful facts about donating blood:

  • Type O-negative blood is the universal donor, but only 7% of the population carries this blood type, meaning it is frequently in high demand but short supply
  • Type O-positive blood can be received by any positive-type recipient, or 80% of the population
  • Platelets are a small but special component of your blood that prevent further bleeding when injured. Every day, platelet transfusions are needed by cancer patients, pediatric transplant patients and more

In addition to donations made at We Are Blood’s four donor centers, the organization hosts approximately 80 to 100 mobile drives per month in order to meet the need.

Get involved during National Blood Donor Month and year-round by donating at any of four donor centers on North Lamar, Round Rock, Cedar Park and South Austin or numerous mobile drives. 

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