Red Cross winter blood shortage reaches critical level
Ongoing severe winter weather has more than doubled the number of canceled American Red Cross blood drives and the resulting blood and platelet donation shortfall since earlier this month. The Red Cross now considers the situation critical and is reissuing an urgent call for blood and platelet donors.
More than 550 blood drives have been forced to cancel due to winter weather in January, causing more than 16,500 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected through last week. In Connecticut, 19 blood drives have been forced to cancel due to winter weather this month, causing 530 donations to go uncollected. In addition, bitter cold and widespread flu have contributed to very low turnout at many blood drives.
“Blood and platelet donations are currently being distributed to hospitals faster than they are coming in,” said Kelly Isenor, external communications manager of the Red Cross Connecticut Blood Services Region. “Donors are critically needed to restock the shelves for patients in their community as well as areas where donors are unable to give due to inclement weather.”
Every day, no matter the weather, the Red Cross must collect more than 13,000 blood and platelet donations to meet the needs of patients like Finnegan “Finn” Olson. Last January, Finn was born with a rare heart condition. He required multiple transfusions before, during and after heart transplant surgery last summer. Transfusions had an almost immediate effect on his personality and skin’s appearance.
“Each time Finn received a transfusion, you could see him pink up right away and have significantly more energy,” said his mother, Ali Olson. “We credit blood donation with making Finn stronger and helping keep him alive long enough to receive a new heart. Finn is living proof that blood helps save lives.”
Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) 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 in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), 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.
Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at redcrossblood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.