The American Red Cross issued an urgent call this week for blood and platelet donors of all blood types to give now to help address a winter blood donation shortage. Platelet and type O negative and B negative blood donations – in particular – are critically needed right now.
Severe winter weather with snow storms and frigid temperatures has had a tremendous impact on blood donations.
More than 150 blood drives have already been cancelled this year causing over 5,500 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected. Further adding to the diminishing supply, hectic holiday schedules, winter weather and an active cold and flu season collectively contributed to more than 28,000 fewer donations than what was needed in November and December.
Volunteers report that blood donations are going to patients in hospitals just as soon as they come in.
“Last week’s massive winter storm had a significant impact on our blood supply with blood drives cancelled from South Carolina to Maine,” said Chris Hrouda, president, Red Cross Blood Services. “The Red Cross is doing everything we can to ensure blood products are available for hospital patients during these difficult winter months, but we need help from our regular donors – as well as those who are willing to donate for the first time – to give as soon as possible.”
January is National Blood Donor Month – one of the most challenging times of year to collect enough blood and platelet donations to meet patient needs. The Red Cross provides about 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply, and currently Red Cross blood products are being distributed to hospitals as fast as donations come in.
The Red Cross must collect more than 13,000 donations every day for patients at about 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide. Accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease may all require blood to help save their lives.
Eligible individuals are urged to schedule a blood or platelet donation today by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767). Donors can help even more people by inviting a family member, friend or co-worker to donate too.
The Red Cross encourages individuals to make a donation appointment and to complete a RapidPass online health history questionnaire to help speed up the donation process. RapidPass can now be completed on mobile devices and through the Blood Donor App.
Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), 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.
All blood types are needed to help ensure a sufficient blood supply is available for patients – especially platelet and type O negative and B negative donors.
- Platelets, a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, must be transfused within five days of donation and, therefore, are always in high demand. By giving platelets regularly, donors can help patients kick cancer and recover from other life-threatening illnesses and injuries.
- Type O negative is the universal blood type and what emergency room personnel reach for when there is no time to determine the blood type of patients in the most serious situations.
- Type B negative can be transfused to Rh-positive or negative patients.
Eligible donors with types O, A negative and B negative blood are urged to make a Power Red donation, where available. Power Red donors give a concentrated dose of red blood cells during a single donation, allowing them to maximize their impact.