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American Red Cross Says Mounting Effect of Severe Winter Weather Causes Lowest January Blood Supply in a Decade

Penn-Jersey Blood Services Region

February 11, 2011
 

Call is issued for all eligible donors to help replenish decreasing supply

Philadelphia, January 25, 2011 – Severe winter weather throughout much of the eastern half of the United States in recent weeks has caused the cancellation of more than 14,000 blood and platelet donations through the American Red Cross approximately 1,800 units of which were in the Penn-Jersey Region covering all of New Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania. The severity of the impact has stressed even the Red Cross’ robust national inventory management system, which can move blood products to where they’re needed most, such as when severe weather hits. 

“We have not seen the January supply drop this dramatically in a decade and we need to reverse this now“, said Brigid O'Neill LaGier, Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross Penn-Jersey Blood Services Region.   “This situation is urgent and we can’t wait until we run out before we react as a community.. Donating blood or platelets now helps ensure immediate and future patient needs will be met.”

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 5 days – they must be replenished constantly.

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

Blood drives are held seven days a week in communities across the region. To make an immediate appointment for an American Red Cross blood drive this week please visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS to find a listing of community blood drives.

Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in PA and NJ), meet weight and height requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height) and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood.  Please bring your Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when you come to donate.