DETROIT (WWJ) – With the new year comes a renewed call for Michigan residents to donate blood.

January is National Blood Donor Month and the American Red Cross is encouraging people to roll up their sleeves and give blood to help maintain a sufficient blood supply for patients.

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Maintaining the supply is difficult at this time of year because extreme winter weather and seasonal illnesses often impact donor turnout.

Donors with all blood types are needed — especially those with types O negative, B negative and A negative.

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The Red Cross is also encouraging people to donate platelets — a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, surgical patients and bone narrow recipients. Platelets must be transfused within five days of donation, so donations are constantly needed.

To make an appointment to donate, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

Blood can be safely donated every 56 days. Platelets can be given every seven days – up to 24 times a year. Individuals who are 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

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National Blood Donor Month has been observed in January since 1970 with the goal of increasing blood and platelet donations during winter – one of the most difficult times of year to collect enough blood products to meet patient needs.