One-two punch of winter storms canceled blood drives straining Red Cross blood supply

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Red Cross has an emergency need for blood donors to give now

The American Red Cross is reissuing its emergency call for blood donors to give now after multiple snow storms, frigid temperatures and the government shutdown further reduced lifesaving donations.

In January, more than 4,600 Red Cross blood and platelet donations went uncollected as blood drives were forced to cancel due to severe winter weather blanketing parts of the U.S., and additional cancellations are expected this week. Weather travel advisories may cause even more donors to delay their planned donations. Donors in areas affected by winter weather are asked to make an appointment now to give once it is safe to travel.

The federal government shutdown also affected donations as more than 4 percent of Red Cross blood collections come from drives sponsored by military and local, state and federal government agencies. About 30 blood drives hosted by federal offices were canceled across the country due to the shutdown, leaving more than 900 donations uncollected.

“Disruptions to blood and platelet donations jeopardize the availability of blood for patients who depend on transfusions for survival,” said Cliff Numark, senior vice president, Red Cross Biomedical Services. “We’re grateful for all those who have come out to give since we issued our emergency call earlier this month and now urge others to come out and give to prevent delays in essential medical care.”

Right now, Red Cross blood donations are being distributed to hospitals faster than they are coming in, and there is less than a three-day supply of most blood types on hand. The Red Cross strives to maintain a five-day supply of blood to meet the needs of patients and to be prepared for emergencies that require significant volumes of donated blood products.

All eligible donors, especially blood donors with type O blood, are urgently needed to help restock the shelves for hospital patients. Donation appointments can be easily scheduled by using the free Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

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