The American Red Cross estimates that more than 44,000 blood donations are needed every day in the U.S. to meet the demand for blood. That equates to, roughly, one donation every two seconds.
Departments, posts and Legionnaires everywhere are encouraged to help in the fight to meet those enormous demands, which often go overlooked by those who are lay to the process. Through The American Legion Blood Donor Program, Legionnaires and posts have a conduit to help them do their partespecially now, during the Legion’s Holiday Donor Blood Drive. The blood drive is underway now until Jan. 1.
Founded in 1942, the Blood Donor Program honors departments that excel in two categories: overall individual Legionnaire blood donation within the department, and participation from posts in that department. Legionnaires participate by giving blood and reporting it to their posts, which mark the donation on their annual Consolidated Post Reports. Posts participate by hosting blood drives and listing number of donors in attendance on their Consolidated Post Reports.
Awards are announced at national convention for the two categories according to highest percentage of participating Legionnaires (in comparison to overall membership in the department) and most posts participating in the department. Due to varying membership sizes, departments are split into six categories:
- Category 1 (100,000-plus members) - California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania
- Category 2 (70,000 to 99,999 members) - Maryland, Michigan, Texas and Wisconsin
- Category 3 (40,000 to 69,999 members) - Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina and Virginia
- Category 4 (25,000 to 39,999 members) - Alabama, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia
- Category 5 (10,000 to 24,999 members) - Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah and Vermont
- Category 6 (less than 10,000 members) - Alaska, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Nevada, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island and Wyoming
A healthy donor may donate red blood cells every 56 days or double red blood cells every 112 days. Platelets can be donated as few as seven days apart but a maximum of 24 times a year. Platelets are essential for patients who are undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplants and have weakened immune systems.
In addition to knowing that they’ve helped an always-worthy cause, donors also benefit in that they receive a brief health screening before giving blood. The results of the screening, which are always kept confidential, often reveal lingering health problems such as irregular heartbeat or high blood pressure.
Legionnaires interested in donating can make an appointment at the Red Cross’ donation appointment page. Posts that want to host a blood drive should visit the Red Cross’ blood drive registration page.