Winter Weather Takes Heavy Toll on Blood and Platelet Donations

Leroy Straight averages 20-24 visits per year to the Donor Center to give platelets.
About 300 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled in 25 states, resulting in a shortfall of more than 8,800 blood and platelet donations.

Severe winter weather across much of the U.S. has had a significant impact on the ability of the American Red Cross to collect blood and platelet donations. Approximately 300 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled in 25 states, resulting in a shortfall of more than 8,800 blood and platelet donations.

While the severe winter weather impacts blood donation opportunities, hospital patients still need transfusions of blood and platelets. Donors in unaffected areas are encouraged to make and keep blood and platelet donation appointments to help offset the current shortfall. Donors in affected areas are urged to give blood or platelets once travel is deemed safe.

On average, the Red Cross must collect about 15,000 pints of blood every day for patients at approximately 2,700 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. All blood types are needed to ensure a sufficient supply is available for patients.

There is an urgent need for blood types O positive, O negative, A negative and B negative. Eligible donors with these blood types are strongly encouraged to make an appointment to give in the coming days. There is also an urgent need for platelet donors to make and keep appointments to give. Platelets – a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients - must be transfused within five days of donation, so donations are always needed.

DOUBLE RED CELL DONATIONS Donors with blood types O positive, O negative, A negative and B negative can consider making a double red cell donation where available. Double red cell donation is done with the help of an apheresis machine which collects the red cells but returns most of the plasma and platelets to the donor. Donors need to meet slightly higher hemoglobin and body height/weight requirements in order to be able to give a double red cell donation. Double red cell donations take approximately 30 minutes longer than a whole blood donation and allow you to give two units of red cells.

THE NEED FOR BLOOD IS CONSTANT It’s the blood already on the shelves that helps save lives before, during and after a disaster. The Red Cross has the ability to move blood products where and when they are needed most. Donors in areas unaffected by the severe winter weather may be helping patients close to home or patients in areas where donors are unable to give because of inclement weather. Families of cancer patients, accident victims and many others are counting on the generosity of volunteer blood donors.

HOW TO GIVE For more information about donating blood, or to make an appointment to donate blood or platelets, please visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Individuals who are at least 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and be in 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.

Tags: Blood 2014.
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.

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