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Red Cross has emergency need for blood and platelet donations

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The American Red Cross has an emergency need for blood and platelet donors.

Severe winter weather since Jan. 1 has forced the cancellation of more than 300 blood drives across 20 states, resulting in more than 9,500 donations uncollected, further depleting an already low winter supply.

Blood donation appointments can be quickly and easily scheduled by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

In the Greater Alleghanies Red Cross Blood Services Region 11 blood drives were canceled since Jan. 23, causing more than 350 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected.

“Blood products are being delivered to hospitals as quickly as donations are coming in,” said Nick Gehrig, communications director, Red Cross Blood Services. “Eligible donors are urged to make an appointment to give blood or platelets now and help ensure blood products are available for patients.”

Because of generous donors, the Red Cross is able to provide blood products to patients like 2-year-old Charlie Stephens. Charlie has received both blood and platelets during treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Her mother, Michelle Stephens, donates blood regularly. “I want to help supply blood for someone else, because others have provided for my family,” she said.

The Red Cross must collect approximately 14,000 blood and platelet donations every day for the patients at about 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide. Blood and platelets are needed to respond to patient emergencies, including accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.

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 consent 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.

Blood donors can now 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, from a home or work computer prior to arriving at the blood drive. To get started and learn more, visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families.

The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.

For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.