As severe winter weather begins to subside, the American Red Cross is asking all eligible blood and platelet donors to help offset a weather-related shortfall in donations.
Approximately 300 blood drives across 25 states were canceled across the U.S. due to snow and extreme cold. The blood drive cancellations resulted in a shortfall of nearly 8, 800 blood and platelet donations since Jan. 2. In the Missouri-Illinois Blood Services Region, severe winter weather forced the cancellation of nearly 30 Red Cross blood drives, resulting in about 875 fewer than expected blood donations over the past five days.
"It's the blood products already on the shelves that help save lives when severe weather hits," said Scott Caswell, CEO of the Red Cross Missouri-Illinois 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."
Platelet donors, as well as blood donors with the most in-demand blood types - O positive and negative, A negative and B negative - are urgently needed to give blood in the days and weeks ahead to offset the shortfall.
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. Red blood cells, the oxygen carrying component of blood, are the most widely transfused blood product and must be transfused within 42 days.
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 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.