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Red Cross urges people to give blood

Last week’s winter storm along the East Coast resulted in additional blood drive cancellations and the American Red Cross is urging people in unaffected areas of the country to schedule a blood donation in the coming days.

Last week the Red Cross issued a nationwide appeal for blood donors to boost a dwindling blood supply. Winter weather caused thousands of blood and platelet donations to go uncollected throughout the eastern half of the country.

The latest snowfall has worsened the situation, with more blood drives cancelled and a total of about 18,000 blood and platelet donations not collected over the past several weeks. The Red Cross has not seen its blood supply drop this dramatically at this time of year for the past 10 years.

“Here in the Greater Alleghenies Region of American Red Cross blood services, a total of 810 blood donations went uncollected during January as a result of weather-related blood drive cancellations,” noted John Hagins, CEO. “This total represents nearly one day of typical donations. Weather also affected turnout at blood drives that remained on schedule throughout our 100-county service area.”

People across the country have been responding to the call for blood donors, and the Red Cross hopes that support will continue. Despite the weather, patients continue to need blood. After a prolonged drop in blood donations, it takes time to build the blood supply back to an adequate level.

Hagins also expressed concern about the storm system headed to the area this week. “If you’re in an area unaffected by the storms, your donations could help meet the blood needs of not only those in your local community, but in other communities as well,” he commented.

Everyone who is eligible is urged to make an appointment to give blood in the coming days by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or by visiting www.redcrossblood.org .

Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states, including West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio), 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. Individuals should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when coming to donate.

All blood types are needed, but there is a particular need for people with negative blood types – O negative, A negative and B negative – to give blood now.

Individuals may also follow the Red Cross on Twitter: twitter.com/ RedCrossGAR.