Emergency need for blood donors following historic snowstorm


January is designated as National Blood Donor Month. As millions of residents dig out from the historic winter storm that slammed the East Coast this past weekend, the American Red Cross is facing an emergency need for blood and platelet donors. Severe winter weather since Jan. 1 has forced the cancellation of more than 300 blood drives in 20 states, resulting in approximately 9,500 donations uncollected, further depleting an already low winter supply.

The impact of this weekend’s winter storm continues to affect multiple states along the East Coast, and more blood drives will likely be cancelled. Right now, blood products are being distributed to hospitals as quickly as donations come in.

The Need for Blood Doesn’t Get a Snow Day

Even when Mother Nature strikes, the Red Cross still needs to collect approximately 14,000 blood and platelet donations each day for patients at about 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide. Blood and platelets are needed to respond to patient emergencies, including accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.

While winter weather wreaks havoc in some areas, others are enjoying clear 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. Donors in weather affected areas are urged to give blood or platelets once travel is deemed safe.

Roll Up a Sleeve – All Blood Types Needed

All blood types are needed to help ensure a sufficient blood supply is available for patients. Eligible donors with types O, B negative and A negative blood are encouraged to donate double red cells where available.

There is also an emergency 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.

In addition, eligible donors with type AB blood are urgently needed to donate, especially platelets where available. Type AB is the universal plasma type, suitable for patients of all blood types. Plasma helps maintain blood pressure and supplies critical proteins for clotting and immunity. It is often needed for burn, trauma and clotting factor deficiency patients and can be given during a platelet donation.

Schedule an Appointment to Donate Today

To make an appointment to donate blood or platelets, download the Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). 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.

Blood donors can now save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, from a home or work computer prior to arriving at the blood drive. To get started and learn more, visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.