Red Cross experiencing winter blood shortage

By EMILY REED / Special to the Reporter

The American Red Cross is encouraging individuals to give blood after experiencing a severe winter blood shortage due to low donations in November and December.

“Every day, the Red Cross must collect nearly 14,000 blood donations for patients at approximately 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country,” said Kristen Stancil, External Communications Manager Biomedical Field Marketing and Communications spokesperson for the Red Cross. “In the Alabama and Central Gulf Coast Blood Services Region, we need to collect approximately 300 blood donations each and every day to meet the needs of patients.”

Several factors for the winter shortage include hectic holiday schedules for many regular blood donors, and weather forcing many blood drives to cancel in December.

“Snowstorms and severe weather impacted donations,” according to a press release from the Red Cross. “Nearly 100 blood drives were forced to cancel, resulting in more than 3,100 blood donations going uncollected.”

While the shortage is affecting Alabama, Stancil said the shortage is also widespread nationally.

“As a national network, the Red Cross has a unique responsibility to meet the demand for blood and help ensure it is available for patients whenever and wherever it is needed,” Stancil said. “While the Red Cross first meets the needs of area hospitals, it can also provide blood throughout the country when necessary.”

Donors are encouraged to invite family members and friends to donate with them to help with the shortage.

“The blood supply can be replenished when generous volunteers roll up a sleeve to give,” Stancil said.

Blood donations help individuals who have been affected by an accident or a burn, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.

Those interested in donating blood can schedule an appointment to donate by using the free Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling (800) 733-2767.

The Red Cross is extending hours at many donation sites for more donors to give blood or platelets, according to the release.

Locally, individuals can donate at blood drives located at:

Jan. 13: Caldwell Trace Donor Center, 700 Caldwell Trace, 7:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Jan. 14: Caldwell Trace Donor Center, 700 Caldwell Trace, 7: a.m. until 3 p.m.

Jan. 16: Caldwell Trace Donor Center, 700 Caldwell Trace, noon until 6 p.m.

Jan. 19: Caldwell Trace Donor Center, 700 Caldwell Trace, 7:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Jan. 20: Caldwell Trace Donor Center, 700 Caldwell Trace, 7:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Jan. 21: Caldwell Trace Donor Center, 700 Caldwell Trace, 7:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.