By Makenzie O'Keefe

(CBS4) – January is National Blood Donor Month, and this year marks the 52nd anniversary of the event. It’s a time to recognize the importance of giving blood and platelets, and how our community can help to save lives.

“I think blood donation and blood product donation is ever so critical, especially in the era of COVID,” explained Dr. Michael Tees, a Hematologist and Oncologist with the Colorado Blood Cancer Institute. “We forget that patients still need their surgeries and still need our treatments for our patients, and blood products and blood components are absolutely critical during this time.”

The three main types of blood donations include blood, platelet and plasma donations. All are essential in saving lives.

“Platelets are a little bit different than giving blood and when you give blood actually the components are separated out amongst the different needs that that different patients have,” Dr. Tees said. “When you give blood, you are actually helping more than just one person many times and many times when you’re giving blood, you’re also helping your neighbors because the blood donation actually tends to stay in the region that you donate.”

Blood donations continue to be crucial, as many organizations are experiencing a dangerously low supply of blood. That can impact the outcome of patients who are in dire need of blood, to complete surgeries or treatment.

“For our patients with blood cancers and blood disorders it is absolutely critical that we have a steady supply of the blood products that our patients need, for us to give the treatments which includes stem cell transplants for example. There is a period of time where the production system for patients is entirely compromised,” Dr. Tees explained.

Those wishing to donate blood this month or any time, can sign up to do so through the Presbyterian St. Lukes Donor Services, Vitalant or the American Red Cross.

“You are giving the gift of life,” Dr. Tees said.

Makenzie O'Keefe