American Red Cross Blood Supply Hits Critical Levels

January 24, 2011


Donors with Types O-negative and B-negative encouraged to donate


Lansing, MI– The inventory of type O-negative and B-negative blood at the local American Red Cross have dropped to critical levels in recent days, as winter weather across the country has canceled blood drives and prevented potential donors from safely traveling to give blood.  The Red Cross needs eligible donors with types O-negative and B-negative blood to make a blood donation appointment now. 


In the Great Lakes Region, approximately 700 units of blood are needed everyday to help meet the needs of 60 hospitals across the state.   Type O-negative blood is always in high demand because it is the universal type, and can be transfused to patients with any blood type, especially in emergency situations.  Since the beginning of December, winter weather has negatively affected blood donations despite many donor recruitment efforts. 


“While all blood types are needed on an ongoing basis, we urge those who know they are types O-negative and B-negative to make and keep appointments to give blood as soon as possible,” said Dr. Barry Siegfried, Medical Director of the American Red Cross Great Lakes Blood Services Region.  “Your donation could help save the life of someone’s child, mother, brother or friend.  When you come to give, you help make everyday medical treatments possible.”  


Recent winter weather has forced the cancellation of hundreds of Red Cross blood drives in the Midwest and Eastern parts of the country, causing a shortfall of more than 8,000 blood donations.   This January, inMichiganalone, 15 blood driveshave been canceled and the weather has caused low donor turn out at many drives.  Across Michigan, the local Red Cross currently has a total shortfall of more than 625 blood donations.  With winter weather in full swing, the Red Cross anticipates even more cancellations.


Across the OH-MI Division, 54 blood drives have been cancelled and 30 have had either a delayed start or have closed early.  This has resulted in a shortfall of more than 2,540 blood donationsjust this month.


The Red Cross is working to boost type O-negative donations by alerting current donors in the Red Cross system through emails, phone calls and post cards.  While donors of all blood types are needed year-round, it is critically important for donors with types O-negative and B-negative to make an appointment.


As an extra incentive, everyone who attempts to donate blood this January and February have a chance to win an all-expense paid trip for two to see Round 3 Men’s NCAA Championship games in Chicago March 18 – 21.  Airfare and a three-night stay at the Downtown Marriott are included.  In addition, all donors have a chance to win free groceries for a month (up to $250 value) courtesy of Meijer. 


To find a list of blood drives or to schedule an appointment to donate blood, call 1-800-RED-CROSS (733-2767) or visit 


There is also a need for platelet donations. This apheresis donation process is where a machine collects only platelets and returns the rest of the blood back into the body. Many patients who need platelets are undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplant and have weakened immune systems.


Currently the great Lakes Region has seen about an 8% decrease in platelet donations this month.  To make an appointment to donate platelets in Flint or Lansing, call 1-866-725-2140.