American Red Cross: Winter weather impacts blood supply
Ongoing severe winter weather has more than doubled the number of canceled American Red Cross blood drives and the resulting blood and platelet donation shortfall since earlier in the month.
As of Jan. 23, the American Red Cross considered the situation to be critical and reissued an urgent call for blood and platelet donors.
The call came during the ongoing observance of January as National Blood Donor Month.
The American Red Cross Tennessee Valley Region reported that more than 550 blood drives were cancelled due to winter weather in January.
The cancellations caused more than 16,500 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected through mid-January.
In addition, bitter cold and widespread flu have contributed to very low turnout at many blood drives.
“Blood and platelet donations are currently being distributed to hospitals faster than they are coming in,” said Clifford Numark, senior vice president of Red Cross Blood Services, in a news release.
“Donors are critically needed to restock the shelves for patients in their community as well as areas where donors are unable to give due to inclement weather.
“Even temporary disruptions to blood and platelet donations can diminish the availability for hospital patients.
“It’s the blood on the shelves that helps save lives in an emergency, and that’s why we’re asking eligible individuals to make an appointment to give blood or platelets today.”
While serving local hospitals is the first priority, the Red Cross can move blood products to where they’re needed most.
This allows donors throughout the country to contribute to the national blood supply and potentially help patients locally and in storm-affected areas.
While all blood types are urgently needed, there is a more critical need for the following blood and donation types:
Platelets: The clotting portion of blood primarily given to cancer patients during treatment and always in great demand.
Type O negative: The blood type that can be transfused to almost everyone and is what doctors reach for in trauma situations.
Type B negative: The blood type that can be transfused to type B Rh-positive and negative patients.
Type AB: The plasma type that can be transfused to almost everyone and can be donated through a platelet or plasma donation, where available, or during a regular blood donation.
Every day, no matter the weather, the Red Cross must collect more than 13,000 blood and platelet donations to meet the needs of patients.
Area Blood Drives
The website for the Tennessee Valley Region posted information about upcomng blood drives which are scheduled in the area, including:
Wednesday, Jan. 31, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Anna.
Thursday, Feb. 8, noon to 6 p.m., First Baptist Church, Anna.
Wednesday, Feb. 28, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Anna-Jonesboro Community High School.
Friday, March 9, 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Dongola Unit School District No. 66.
Making Appointments, Donating Blood
An appointment to give blood or platelets can be made by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients.
A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in at a blood drive.
Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), 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.
Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive.
To get started, follow the instructions at redcrossblood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.