Severe weather, flu season lead to critically low blood supply; donors needed at upcoming drives

Blood transfusion bag | Photo by JarekJoepera / iStock / Getty Images Plus; St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The American Red Cross is in urgent need of blood and platelet donors to address a winter blood shortage made worse by severe winter storms and frigid temperatures in parts of the country that have significantly impacted blood donation numbers.

The Red Cross provides about 40 percent of the nation’s blood and must collect more than 13,000 donations every day for patients at about 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide.

This year, there is a shortage, according to a press release from the Red Cross.

Severe weather and storms have led to the cancellation of more than 150 blood drives, resulting in a loss of 5,500 blood donations.

Further adding to the dwindling supply, winter weather and a particularly active cold and flu season resulted in 28,000 fewer donations than what was needed in November and December.

All blood types are needed, but Type O-negative and Type B-negative donations in particular are needed right away.

Blood is perishable, and only donors can replenish the supply.

The most transfused product, red blood cells, must be used within 42 days, but platelets, tiny cells that form clots and help stop bleeding, are only good for five days and are critical for cancer patients who may need transfusions to prevent life-threatening bleeding during chemotherapy.

“Platelet donors don’t have to wait a few weeks to make a difference in a patient’s life,” said Red Cross Blood Services Field Marketing and Communications Director Nick Gehrig. “Someone could donate platelets on Monday, and by Friday, those same platelets can help someone’s fight to kick cancer.”

Chris Hrouda, president of Red Cross Blood Services, said in the statement that the Red Cross is doing everything they can to ensure blood products are available during difficult winter months.

“But we need help from our regular donors, as well as those who are willing to donate for the first time,” he said.

“Give as soon as possible.”

How to help:

To schedule an appointment to donate, use the free Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). The Red Cross is extending hours at many donation sites to allow for more donors to make an appointment to give.

Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire are encouraged to avoid longer wait times.

Those unable to give can still help by encouraging others to give through a “SleevesUp” virtual blood drive, giving of their time through volunteerism or making a financial donation to support Red Cross humanitarian work across the country and around the world.

Upcoming blood drives in Washington County 

Thursday, Jan. 18:

  • Where: Bloomington LDS Stake Center, 200 W. Brigham Road, St. George.
  • Time:  1-6:30 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 19:

  • Where: St. George Blood Donation Center, 476 E. Riverside Drive, Suite B-6, St. George.
  • Time: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 22:

  • Where: St. George Blood Donation Center, 476 E. Riverside Drive, Suite B-6, St. George.
  • Time: 1-6 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 25:

  • Where: Washington Field LDS Stake Center, 1295 S. 3000 East, Washington City.
  • Time: 1-6 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 26: 

  • Where: St. George Blood Donation Center, 476 E. Riverside Drive, Suite B-6, St. George.
  • Time: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Upcoming blood drives in Iron County 

Monday, Jan 22:

  • Where: State Bank of Southern Utah, 377 N. Main St., Cedar City.
  • Time: 1-4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan 23:

  • Where: State Bank of Southern Utah, 377 N. Main St., Cedar City.
  • Time: 1-4:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 23: 

  • Where: Enoch West Bank, 3575 N. Minersville Highway, Cedar City.
  • Time: 2-7:30 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 29:

  • Where: Sharwan Smith Center, 351 W. University Blvd., Cedar City.
  • Time: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 1: 

  • Where: Cedar City North LDS Stake Center, 95 N. 2125 West, Cedar City.
  • Time:   1:30-7 p.m.

Every two seconds in the United States blood and platelets are needed to respond to patient emergencies, including accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant procedures, and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.

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, visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or on Twitter at @RedCross.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

 

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3 Comments

  • comments January 18, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    have to ask yourself, if blood is in such short supply do you really have any to spare….

  • ladybugavenger January 18, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    I’m sorry I’m not there to donate my blood. I have excellent blood! You’d like my blood, its good blood, very good, unfortunately, I’m not there to increase the supply. I’ll donate to red cross tho, I love the free juice and cookie

    • comments January 18, 2018 at 10:20 pm

      its a blood hungry world

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