Blood Donor Month continues as January moves forward

People around the nation are giving back in a big way; one that could save the lives of many.
Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 9:13 AM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - It’s the month of giving, well blood, at least.

Although the holiday season is behind us, many people are continuing to give back. It’s a gift that’s not wrapped in a bow. This gift has the potential to save the lives of Alaskans every day.

During the month of January, Blood Donor Month is recognized. Blood Donor Month was first recognized in 1970 by President Nixon, in an effort to raise awareness about the need to blood.

At the Blood Bank of Fairbanks some folks are cashing in on the rewards of giving back.

Brandon Campbell works as the Fairbanks Manager for Blood Bank of Alaska. He said the blood donated to the organization is distributed to more than 21 Alaska hospitals, military hospitals, and Native facilities.

“We are one of many blood centers throughout the state and one of the things that we do is we provide Alaska Hospitals with blood products,” explained Campbell. He noted this wouldn’t be possible without donors coming through the doors.

Once collected, it’s sent to Anchorage to be tested. He explained why the blood is tested. “We are looking for any medical conditions or anything that would prevent it from being safe to go to someone in the hospital that needs it.”

Whole blood expires in roughly 42 days. Campbell says donors can give blood every once every 56 days. “So essentially we need to replace the entire state’s blood supply before you as a donor can come back again.”

Campbell said there are months when the center sees fewer donors than others. This is normally during the holidays and could be due to many reasons. That is why after the end-of-year festivities, January is a perfect month to start donating again or try it for the first time.

“There are many medical conditions that require blood products,” he said. “Numerous conditions, not just traumas.”

Currently, the blood bank is in critical need of O-Positive, O-Negative, and A blood types. Campbell said the best way to support the blood bank is to donate anyway. That way they can stock the shelves and make sure the most correct blood products go to the right people. “Although O [positive, negative] is the most universal donor, we need all blood types.”

According to the blood bank, on average 37% of those eligible to donate are O Positive and can donate to most blood types. O-negative donors are the universal donor, but only 7% have this blood type. They can donate to all patients; this is especially important for traumas that require immediate transfusion.

The Blood Bank of Alaska can also test your blood type if you are unsure what your blood type is. The test can take up to 5 days to process, then the results are emailed to the recipient.

Campbell ended with the blood bank cannot achieve their life-saving mission without donors. “Donating supports the community, it supports the state,” he said with a smile. “All the way from Barrow to the most southern part of the state.”

The goal of the blood bank is to register 100 donors a day.