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National Blood Donor Month: American Red Cross, NFL partner to save lives in Alabama, other states


The American Red Cross is partnering with the National Football League (NFL) to help curb the winter blood shortage. January is deemed National Blood Donor Month as donations typically slow down over the holidays.

Those donating blood through January 31 will be entered into a competition where they could win a package containing two tickets to the biggest NFL game of the year in Las Vegas, alongside round-trip travel, lodging and more.

Kelly Hodges is the director of the South Alabama branch of the American Red Cross. She says the decision to make January National Blood Donor Month is not an arbitrary one.

“We don’t have enough blood on the shelves right now,” Hodges explained. “Please, take an hour of your time to donate life-saving blood. That way, when an accident happens, the blood is already on the shelf.”

Blood is always in high demand, but with a short supply over the holidays, those needs are heightened. Hodges says that over 13,000 donations worth of blood units are needed in hospitals across the country within a day. Blood takes three days to be tested and useable, she adds, and a blood transfusion is needed every three seconds.

The Red Cross is also looking for types of blood that serve specific needs. Some of these include Type-O blood or platelets for cancer patients.

“One of the most important [types of] blood that we don’t receive is blood that can help folks with sickle cell [disease],” said Hodges. “Only African Americans have the gene in their blood that can help people with sickle cell. Sickle cell [is] extremely painful, and the only thing that helps are blood transfusions.”

Hodges stressed the importance of having as much blood as possible on hand. She says donated blood is supposed to be discarded after around 42 days on the shelf. However, this rarely, if never, happens because there is not enough blood in the first place, especially during tough months like January. That’s one of the reasons why she says she believes this competition is important.

“It’s a challenge for everyone to collect these 13,000 donations daily,” said Hodges. “The NFL started this partnership with the Red Cross years ago. It’s always nice to be able to say thank you, and the NFL allows us to do that by giving us gifts we can give away to our blood donors.”

More details on the contest to win NFL tickets can be found here. Potential donors can schedule an appointment using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, the organization’s website, or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).


Isabella Cornelius is a student intern at the Alabama Public Radio newsroom. She’s majoring in News Media at The University of Alabama, with a minor in Political Science. In her spare time, Isabella skateboards, makes electronic music and writes video essays on game design and pop culture.

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