This week’s winter storm has forced the cancellation of hundreds of American Red Cross blood drives along the Eastern Seaboard, causing a shortfall of more than 8,000 blood donations in the southeast and northeast corners of the country.
Red Cross Blood Regions in the Southeast reported that more than 6,000 blood donations could not be collected due to the storm which paralyzed the South. In the Northeast, Red Cross Blood Regions reported that nearly 2,000 blood donations were not collected Wednesday as the snow was still falling.
“The result of the cancellation of that many blood drives and consequently all those blood donations translates into as many as 24,000 blood products that we now do not have available for patients who may need them,” said Chris Hrouda, executive vice president, Red Cross Biomedical Services. “We are asking anyone in these areas who is eligible to give blood to please consider making an appointment to donate as soon as it is safe to do so.”
If you’re in an area unaffected by the storms, your donations could help meet the blood needs of those in your local community, or wherever blood is needed most. There is a particular need for people with O-negative blood to give now. O-negative is the universal blood type which can go to any patient regardless of their blood type. O-negative blood is often used in emergency cases when doctors can’t wait to type a patient’s blood.
There is also a need for people to give platelets during what is called an apheresis donation. A machine collects only your platelets and returns the rest of your blood back to you. Many patients who need platelets are undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplant and have weakened immune systems.
Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet weight and height requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height) and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. Please bring your Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when you come to donate. It must be 56 days since your last donation.
For more information, or to schedule your donation, please call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit redcrossblood.org.
Meanwhile, Red Cross workers continue to help those affected by the winter weather, operating shelters in Florida, Georgia, Texas and Massachusetts. Many homes are relying on alternate heat sources to cut down on heating costs. Alternate heating methods can be dangerous if not used properly. The Red Cross has steps people can follow to safely keep their home warm:
- Never use your stove or oven to heat your home.
- Place space heaters on a hard, level, nonflammable surface. Do not put space heaters on rugs or carpets, near bedding or drapes, and keep children and pets away. Look for a space heater model that shuts off automatically if the heater falls over.
- Never leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended.
- Turn off space heaters or extinguish the fireplace before going to bed or leaving home.
- Keep the fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
- Keep all flammable materials such as newspapers, matches, bedding, clothing, carpets and rugs at least three feet away from heat sources such as space heaters, fireplaces and stoves.