Hurricane Irene Impacts National Blood Supply, American Red Cross Seeks Blood and Platelet Donors

August 31, 2011

Since Hurricane Irene began its path along the East Coast, the storm has forced the cancellation of more than 70 American Red Cross blood drives, resulting in a shortfall of more than 2,400 blood and platelet donations. Additional blood drives are expected to be canceled or postponed in the coming days due to storm damage and power outages. To help boost already low blood supplies, the Red Cross is urging blood and platelet donations in unaffected areas.

In appreciation of those who come out to donate and refuel the Red Cross blood supply, through September 7, all presenting blood donors in the Badger-Hawkeye Blood Services Region are eligible to win one of three $500 gas cards.

“Blood donated through the Red Cross can help patients locally and throughout the country, wherever there is a need,” said Greg Novinska, CEO of the local Red Cross Blood Services Region. “When disaster strikes, the need does not diminish, but blood donors in affected areas may find it difficult or impossible to get to a blood drive. By giving blood through the Red Cross, donors can help ensure all patient needs can be met. Blood and platelet donations of all types are needed.”

How to Donate Blood

Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. 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 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. 

Disaster Relief

The Red Cross has relief operations ongoing in more than a dozen states and thousands of disaster workers helping people from North Carolina to New England. The Red Cross has provided more than 48,000 overnight shelter stays since Friday and every Red Cross feeding truck east of the Rocky Mountains - more than 250 – are set to go into neighborhoods as soon as conditions permit. Tens of thousands of pre-packaged meals are in position, and the Red Cross is working with its community partners to have feeding kitchens in place after the storm moves through.

If people would like to help, they can click or text to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Donations can be made by visiting or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions can also be sent to someone’s local Red Cross chapter or mailed to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

About the American Red Cross

Governed by volunteers and supported by giving individuals and communities, the American Red Cross is the single largest supplier of blood products to hospitals throughout the United States. While local hospital needs are always met first, the Red Cross also helps ensure no patient goes without blood no matter where or when they need it. In addition to providing nearly half of the nation’s blood supply, the Red Cross provides relief to victims of disaster, trains millions in lifesaving skills, serves as a communication link between U.S. military members and their families, and assists victims of international disasters or conflicts.