Printable Version

Severe Winter Weather Impacts Blood and Platelet Donations

Greater Chesapeake & Potomac Region

January 9, 2014
 

Urgent need for platelet donors, blood donors with types O, A negative and B negative

BALTIMORE (January 8, 2014) — 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.

There is an urgent need for platelet donors, as well as blood donors with the most in-demand blood types — O positive and negative, A negative and B negative to give blood in the days and weeks ahead to offset the shortfall. Eligible donors are strongly encouraged to make an appointment to give in the coming days. Families of cancer patients, accident victims and many others are counting on the generosity of volunteer blood donors.

Approximately 280 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, 400 blood and platelet donations since Jan. 2.  Locally, severe winter weather forced the cancellation of 10 Red Cross blood drives, resulting about 258 fewer than expected blood and platelet donations.

“It’s the blood products already on the shelves that help save lives when severe weather hits,” said Linda Voss, Chief Executive Officer of the Red Cross Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Blood Services 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.”

On average, the Red Cross must collect about 15,000 pints of blood every day for patients at approximately 2,700 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. All blood types are needed to ensure a sufficient supply is available for patients.

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.

Double Red Cell Donations

Donors with blood types O positive, O negative, A negative and B negative can consider making a double red cell donation where available. Double red cell donation is done with the help of an apheresis machine which collects the red cells but returns most of the plasma and platelets to the donor. Donors need to meet slightly higher hemoglobin and body height/weight requirements in order to be able to give a double red cell donation. Double red cell donations take approximately 30 minutes longer than a whole blood donation and allow you to give two units of red cells.

How to Donate

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.