Winter storms in several parts of the country have taken a toll on American Red Cross blood collections in February. Since the beginning of the month, more than 11,500 total blood and platelet donations have already been canceled due to severe winter weather.
THE MIDWEST Several storm systems have barreled across the Midwest since February 18, forcing the cancellation of almost 150 Red Cross blood drives in 13 states. Donors at those drives were expected to give more than 4,400 units of blood and platelets. On Monday and Tuesday of this week, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska took the biggest hits, and blood drive cancellations were also recorded in Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Oklahoma.
THE NORTHEAST A powerful nor’easter early in the month knocked out power to thousands, dumped more than a foot of snow in some areas, caused dangerous road conditions and forced the cancellation of more than 6,900 Red Cross blood and platelet donations at more than 150 blood drives. While the Northeast is now experiencing a brief break in severe winter weather, more storms are on the horizon for later this week. The Red Cross encourages eligible donors to give blood while it is still safe to travel, helping ensure patient needs can continue to be met.
THE NEED IS CONSTANT Even when Mother Nature strikes, the Red Cross needs to collect approximately 17,000 units of blood each day to meet the needs of patients. While winter weather wreaks havoc in some areas, others are enjoying sunny skies and safe conditions. The Red Cross has the ability to move blood products where and when they are needed most, so donors in unaffected areas are encouraged to make and keep blood and platelet donation appointments to help offset the current shortfall.
BOOSTING THE BLOOD SUPPLY While all blood types are needed, the Red Cross urges eligible donors with types O positive, O negative, A negative and B negative blood to make a lifesaving appointment. Type O negative is the universal blood type and can potentially be transfused to patients of any blood type.. It’s often used in emergency situations when there isn’t time to determine a patient’s blood type. Rh negative blood types can be transfused to both Rh positive and negative patients.
HOW TO GIVE To schedule a donation appointment, or for more information about giving blood, people can call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org. 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 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.