January has been designated Blood Donation Awareness Month because it is the month when blood donations are at their yearly lows.

American Red Cross blood drivesThe blood shortages happen every year during cold and flu season. But donations remain vitally important for several reasons.

“Those who are involved in motor vehicle crashes or have sickle cell disease, anemia, blood disorders, cancer, or newborn babies, and some surgery patients, are just a few that benefit from those that donate blood,” said Arkansas City Fire-EMS Department EMS Director Jeri Smith.

“There are many more patients that benefit from donated blood. The ones I listed are just a few. That’s why it’s referred to as the ‘Gift of Life,’” she said.

There are two more opportunities to give blood in Arkansas City this month.

The first is from noon to 6 p.m. Jan. 5 at Central Christian Church, located at 206 W. Central Ave.

The second will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 25 in the Wright Room at Cowley College’s Brown Center, located at 215 S. Second St.

Reasons to give blood

There are added medical benefits for those who give blood regularly.

Donating blood can help to maintain a healthy heart and liver. It also stimulates blood cell production.

Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S., according to the American Red Cross.

The actual blood donation typically takes about 10 to 12 minutes.

The entire process, from checking in to walking out the door, takes about an hour and 15 minutes.