Severe winter weather throughout January and into February has forced the cancellation of American Red Cross blood drives from coast to coast.
The Red Cross says from January 2 through February 10, more than 1,000 blood drives in 34 states and Washington, D.C. have been canceled, resulting in about 35,000 uncollected blood and platelet donations.
The organizations says extraordinary number of cancellations is the equivalent of the Red Cross having to shut down its national operations for more than two full days.
"On average, the Red Cross must collect about 15,000 units of blood every day to help patients nationwide," said Amy Canterbury,Regional CEO for the Red Cross. "Regardless of the weather, patients are counting on blood products to be there when needed."
Nationwide, donations in January 2014 were down about 10 percent when you average typical January donations since 2011. Blood products are being distributed to hospitals as quickly as donations come in. All blood types are needed to help restock Red Cross shelves.
There is an urgent need for type O negative, O positive, B negative and A negative blood. Type O negative is universal and can likely be transfused to anyone who needs blood. Types A negative and B negative can be transfused to patients with either Rh positive or negative blood.
Platelets, a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, are also urgently needed. Platelets must be transfused within five days of donation, so donations are constantly needed.
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