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American Red Cross Issues National Appeal For Blood

Mounting effects of severe winter weather causes lowest Januarys supply in a decade.

Winter Storm Causes Blood Supply Shortage - Please Donate!

WASHINGTON, January 24, 2011 — Severe winter weather throughout much of the eastern half of the United States in recent weeks has already caused the cancellation of more than 14,000 blood and platelet donations through the American Red Cross. With more winter weather and a possible coastal storm predicted, the Red Cross is urging all eligible blood donors to help boost its blood supply back up to sufficient levels.

The winter storms have already made a huge impact on the national inventory management system, which can typically move blood products to where they’re needed most. In fact, the Red Cross says it has not seen its blood supply drop this dramatically at this time of year over the past ten years.

“Maintaining sufficient blood to meet patient needs is a delicate balance between supply and demand,” said Richard Benjamin, Chief Medical Officer, American Red Cross. “When severe weather disrupts that balance, the Red Cross puts out a call to potential blood donors across the country to give blood as soon as possible and help make up the deficit.”

The Red Cross has issued this appeal for blood donations to avoid the situation where there may not be enough blood available to continue to meet all routine hospital needs and at the same time respond to emergency traumas requiring large quantities of blood.

The Red Cross urges all eligible donors in unaffected areas to make an appointment to give blood or platelets in the coming days, and those in affected areas to donate as soon as travel is deemed safe, by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or by visiting redcrossblood.org. Donations will help replenish the Red Cross blood supply to ensure that blood products are readily available for patients with serious medical needs.

The need for blood is constant. Every two seconds a patient in the United States needs a blood transfusion. Blood is perishable and has no substitute. Red blood cells have a shelf life of only 42 days and platelets just five days – they must be replenished constantly.

Blood and platelets can be used for trauma victims – those who suffered accidents and burns – heart surgery patients, organ transplant patients, premature babies and for patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or other diseases, such as sickle cell disease.

All blood types are needed, especially type O negative, to ensure a reliable supply for patients. 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.  Individuals should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when coming to donate.


About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.