ROCK HILL, S.C., February 19, 2014— The American Red Cross needs blood and platelet donors to help restock the blood supply. Severe winter weather forced the Red Cross Carolinas Blood Services Region to cancel all of its blood drives February 12 and 13, along with most drives on February 14, resulting in more than 3,100 uncollected blood and platelet donations. Of those drives, two were cancelled in the Upper Palmetto area, resulting in a shortfall of more than 80 units.
“It’s the blood products already on the shelves that help save lives when severe weather hits,” said Steve Maness, CEO, of the Red Cross Carolinas Blood Services Region. “Thanks to generous Red Cross blood and platelet donors, blood products were available for patients who still needed transfusions despite the weather. Now we invite those previously ‘frozen out’ from giving blood or platelets to come in soon.”
The ongoing winter storms and freezing temperatures have had a brutal impact on the Red Cross’ ability to collect blood so far this year. The severe weather has cancelled more than 1,500 blood drives in 34 states and Washington, D.C. since the beginning of 2014, resulting in about 50,000 uncollected blood and platelet donations. These cancellations are the equivalent of the Red Cross having to shut down its national operations for more than three full days in just a six-week period.
On average, the Red Cross must collect about 15,000 units of blood every day for patients at approximately 2,700 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. All blood types are currently needed to ensure a sufficient blood supply is available for patients.
Red blood cells, the oxygen carrying component of blood, are the most widely transfused blood product and must be transfused within 42 days. Platelets, a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, must be transfused within five days of donation, so donations are constantly needed.
How to donate blood: Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age, 16 with parental consent in North and South Carolina, 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.
About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.