(PRNewswire) 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. With more winter weather and a possible coastal storm predicted, the Red Cross is urging all eligible blood donors to help boost its blood supply back up to sufficient levels.
The winter storms have already made a huge impact on the national inventory management system, which can typically move blood products to where they're needed most. In fact, the Red Cross says it has not seen its blood supply drop this dramatically at this time of year over the past ten years. "Maintaining sufficient blood to meet patient needs is a delicate balance between supply and demand," said Richard Benjamin, Chief Medical Officer, American Red Cross. "When severe weather disrupts that balance, the Red Cross puts out a call to potential blood donors across the country to give blood as soon as possible and help make up the deficit."
The Red Cross has issued this appeal for blood donations to avoid the situation where there may not be enough blood available to continue to meet all routine hospital needs and at the same time respond to emergency traumas requiring large quantities of blood. 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 www.redcrossblood.org.
The need for blood is constant. Every two seconds a patient in the United States needs a blood transfusion. Red blood cells have a shelf life of only 42 days and platelets just five days - they must be replenished constantly. All blood types are needed, especially type O negative, to ensure a reliable supply for patients.