Health
3:14 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Blood Donations Down in Many Areas Because Of Severe Cold Weather

The severe cold snap that gripped the country over the past several days has kept many people at home. Financial experts estimate the extreme cold weather could cost the U.S. economy up to $5 billion.  But the severe cold weather also impacted donations at blood banks.

Platelet donors, as well as the most in-demand blood types - O positive and negative, A negative and B negative are urgently needed to give blood in the days and weeks ahead to offset the shortfall caused by extreme cold weather across the country.
Credit Courtesy: Jody Lane/ American Red Cross

Leigh Brock, Regional Communications Director for the American Red Cross in Greensboro, says there is an urgent need nationwide for blood donors with types O, A negative and B negative. She says platelet donors are also needed.

“Platelets are needed a lot for cancer patients and obviously at a time like this when people who live in the snow prone areas, they can’t get out right now to donate blood but the cancer patients can’t do without the platelets because they are a clotting factor when they are getting treatments, so they are really needed right now,” says Brock.

During a platelet donation, a small portion of your blood is drawn from your arm and passed through a cell-separating machine. The machine collects the platelets and safely returns the remaining blood components, along with some saline, back to the donor.

According to the American Red Cross, around 280 blood drives across 25 states were canceled due to snow and extreme cold, including six in North Carolina.

Brock says the canceled blood drives have resulted in a shortfall of nearly 8,400 blood and platelet donations since January 2.

“Overall, we are still doing ok in our part of the country but the problem is people in other parts of the country are not doing so well, so what we are trying to do is help them out, help our neighbors this time. We have warmer temperatures here and we don’t have the snow to deal with and because the Red Cross is a national organization, we can do that sharing,” says Brock.

The American Red Cross says individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally god health may be eligible to donate blood.