January 27, 2011 –( release) Severe winter weather throughout much of the eastern half of the United States in recent weeks has caused the cancellation of more than 14,000 blood and platelet donations through the American Red Cross. The severity of the impact has stressed even the Red Cross’ robust national inventory management system, which can move blood products to where they’re needed most, such as when severe weather hits. The New York-Penn Region needs to collect approximately 17,000 units of blood by February 15 to ensure hospitals supplies are met. If just two more people than scheduled at each blood drive between now and then donate blood, this can be achieved.
“We have not seen the January supply drop this dramatically in a decade and we need to reverse this now“, said Donna M. Morrissey, division director, communications, American Red Cross Blood Services, Northeast Division. “You don’t wait to refuel once you’ve run out of gas. Donating blood or platelets now helps ensure immediate and future patient needs will be met.”
The Red Cross urges all eligible donors in unaffected areas to make an appointment to give blood or platelets in the coming days, and those in affected areas to donate as soon as travel is deemed safe, by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or by visiting redcrossblood.org. Donations will help replenish the Red Cross blood supply to ensure that blood products are readily available for patients with serious medical needs.
The need for blood is constant. Every two seconds a patient in the United States needs a blood transfusion. Blood is perishable and has no substitute. Red blood cells have a shelf life of only 42 days and platelets just 5 days – they must be replenished constantly.
Blood and platelets can be used for trauma victims – those who suffered due to accidents and burns – heart surgery patients, organ transplant recipients, premature babies and for patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or other diseases, such as sickle cell disease.
All blood types are needed, especially type O negative, to ensure a reliable supply for patients. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission 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. Please bring your Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when you come to donate.