Winter Weather Impacts Blood Donations— Here’s How You Can Help

New Brunswick, N.J., December 1, 2023 – Blood donations are needed year-round to save lives, but the winter months are typically marked by busy holiday schedules, inclement weather and seasonal illness like the flu, which makes it difficult for blood donors to make and keep donation appointments. It is encouraged now more than ever to donate blood—which is simple and safe— and usually takes under one hour. 

People with cancer need platelets and red blood cells. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other treatments used to treat cancer can impact the body’s ability to generate healthy blood cells, so those undergoing cancer treatment can routinely require blood transfusions, especially in patients whose cancer begins in the bone marrow. This includes blood-related cancers like leukemia, multiple myeloma, and lymphomas. Patients who are on intensive treatment regimens need their blood type readily available at all times. Blood donation

To donate, you must be symptom-free from cold, flu, and COVID-19. Our bodies rely on your blood to fight sickness, so it’s a bad idea to give blood while your immune system is compromised. Make sure you’re not running a fever or experiencing cold- or flu-related symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, sniffles, or fatigue. All blood donors are required to feel healthy on the day of donation.

To be eligible to donate blood, one must be at least 17 years, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. Get a good night’s sleep before your donation. Drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious foods before giving blood. The blood donation itself takes between 5 and 15 minutes, with the whole appointment taking 1 hour. Plasma or platelets donation takes 45 minutes, with the whole appointment taking 1.5 hours.

You can donate blood and platelets locally at the RWJUH Blood Donor Room. For information, call 732-235-8100, Ext. 221 or book an appointment online at

Joanna M. Rhodes, MD, MSCE is director of the Lymphoma Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s leading cancer program and only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, and system head for Lymphoma at RWJBarnabas Health. She is also an assistant professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

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