The American Red Cross is urging everyone who is eligible to make an appointment to give blood or platelets in the coming days by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or by visiting www.redcrossblood.org.
Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), 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. Individuals should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when coming to donate.
All blood types are needed, but there is a particular need for people with negative blood types – O-negative, A-negative and B-negative - to give blood now.
“Continued severe weather is hampering our ability to collect blood,” said Richard Benjamin, Chief Medical Officer, American Red Cross. “It is extremely important to have enough blood on hand to meet patient needs. We need people who are eligible to give blood as soon as possible to help us maintain a sufficient blood supply.”
Earlier this week, the Red Cross reported winter storms had caused the loss of thousands of blood and platelet donations throughout the eastern half of the country. The latest onslaught of winter weather has only worsened the situation, with a total of about 15,400 blood and platelet donations lost so far.
As this latest storm moves up the East Coast, the Red Cross expects to see more blood collections cancelled and fewer people able to make it to collections which are able to continue. The Red Cross has not seen its blood supply drop this dramatically at this time of year over the past ten years.
Those who live in areas of the country not affected by the winter weather are asked to give blood in the coming days to help replenish the Red Cross blood supply and ensure blood products are available for patients with serious medical needs. People residing in parts of the country buried under a new blanket of snow and ice are asked to donate as soon as travel is deemed safe.
People have been responding to the call for blood donors, and the Red Cross hopes that support will continue. Usually the Red Cross sees about 2,000 people make on line donation appointments each day. Although that number has increased significantly in the last several days more donors are needed to respond.
The Red Cross has issued this appeal for blood donations to avoid a situation in which there may not be enough blood available to continue to meet all routine hospital needs and at the same time respond to emergency traumas requiring large quantities of blood.
The need for blood is constant. Every two seconds a patient in the United States needs a blood transfusion. Blood is perishable and has no substitute. Red blood cells have a shelf life of only 42 days and platelets just five days – they must be replenished constantly.
Blood and platelets can be used for trauma victims – those who suffered accidents and burns – heart surgery patients, organ transplant patients, premature babies and for patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or other diseases, such as sickle cell disease.