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Stormy month squeezes Red Cross blood supply

Published On: Feb 04 2014 02:03:58 PM CST
Red Cross blood map

American Red Cross

PORTLAND, Ore. -

The American Red Cross needs blood and platelet donors to help restock the blood supply this February. Severe winter weather throughout January across much of the country forced the cancellation of about 770 Red Cross blood drives, resulting in more than 25,000 uncollected blood and platelet donations.

"Blood products were distributed to hospitals as quickly as the donations came in," said Daphne Mathew, communications director of the Red Cross Pacific Northwest Blood Services Region. "The extraordinary number of cancellations in January was the equivalent of the Red Cross having to shut down its national operations for more than an entire day."

On average, the Red Cross must collect about 15,000 units of blood every day for patients at approximately 2,700 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country.

With additional winter weather already forecast for parts of the country in the next week or two, all blood types are currently needed to ensure a sufficient blood 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.

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.

While weather in this area has not caused problems for blood drives, the Red Cross hopes local blood donors will continue to support patients in need.

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.

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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