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Snow Impacts Blood Collections, Platelet Donors Needed

Greater Chesapeake & Potomac Region

February 8, 2010

Closed Donor Centers and Blood Drives Leave Platelet Supply in Critical State


The weekend snow storm closed nearly all blood collection operations over the weekend, and many more cancelations and low donor show rates are expected through the early part of this week. This has left the supply of platelets, a vital blood component used to treat cancer patients and trauma victims, at grave risk for shortage. Platelets last just 5 days on the shelf, so 2 days of lost collections mean that without an immediate response from the community, the platelet supply could be nearly depleted by the middle of this week. To help ensure that all patients receive the blood and platelets they need for survival, the GC&P Region is urging all eligible platelet donors to call 1-800-272-2123 to schedule an appointment. Donors who are type A or AB are needed for this special procedure, which can be performed at local donor centers.

“We are working with Red Cross regions around the country to import platelet products, however we are concerned that with snow related travel delays we may not be able to receive those imports as quickly as they are needed,” said Page Gambill, Director of Hospital Services for the GC&P Region. “We are relying on our local donors to provide this vital blood product to help patients in need, and are asking those who are able to make it out safely to please schedule a donation appointment by calling 1-800-272-2123.” Platelets are the component of blood that aid in clotting. They are used to treat patients undergoing treatment for cancer, trauma victims, and others with clotting disorders.

Whole blood donations are also need, particularly from type O and B donors. O negative is considered the universal donor because it can be transfused to virtually any patient and is often used in trauma situations. Type B blood is a less common blood type that is also at risk for frequent shortage. Whole blood donors are urged to call 1-800-GIVE LIFE (1-800-448-3543) right away for appointments.

As a special token of appreciation, all participants through the end of this week will receive a special SNOW DONOR thank you, a $5 gourmet coffee gift card will be mailed to all participants following their visits.

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 younger than 19 years also have to meet certain height and weight requirements. Please bring your Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when you come to donate.

Members of the community are asked to call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE immediately to schedule an appointment to donate at any American Red Cross Donor Center or community blood drive. Information about Regional Blood Donor Centers or community blood drive locations and times can be found by clicking on the blue "Make a Donation Appointment" button in the top right corner of your screen. Business and community groups that are willing to hold blood drives are asked to call 1-800-787-9282, x4925 for information.