Blood Shortage Caused By Winter Storm; Red Cross Urges Donations

ACROSS AMERICA — Severe winter weather across the country this month has created an unexpected consequence: a shortage of blood donations in the thousands.

Blood drives throughout the United States, mainly in the Southern states that have been hit the hardest by recent storms, have been cancelled, the American Red Cross wrote on its website over the weekend.

The cold, snow and ice have caused cancellations of Red Cross blood drives in more than 30 states, impacting about 21,000 blood, platelet and convalescent plasma donations, a representative for the national agency told Patch.

Jessa Merrill, spokesperson for the American Red Cross, told Patch the weather has not only challenged the collection of lifesaving blood products, but its distribution to patients in need.

“Icy roads and precipitation have challenged the ability of many blood providers including the American Red Cross to get lifesaving blood products to hospitals in impacted areas—especially in Texas,” Merrill said.

The Red Cross is urging people who can to donate blood when it is safe to travel, and to do so now if in an area unaffected by the severe winter storms “to help prevent delays in patient care.”

“As weather improves, it’s vital that eligible individuals come out to give blood to help restock the shelves — especially those with type O blood — to ensure patients have continued access to the treatments they need,” Merrill said.

Blood donation opportunities are searchable by zip code on the American Red Cross website. People can also call 1-800-RED-CROSS to schedule a donation appointment. Anyone who donates before Feb. 28 will get a $5 Amazon gift card, the Red Cross said.

Those looking to help can do so through several other ways as well, including by making sure someone struggling with the weather crisis is fed.

Related On Patch: How To Help Texas Through The Winter Storm Aftermath

Patch and Feeding America teamed last summer to address the growing hunger crisis in America, connecting readers with the organization’s 200 member food banks that serve 60,000 food pantries and meal programs, and providing an easy way to donate money to help their neighbors.

Donations to the Patch Feeding America food drive are tax-deductible.