Red Cross faces critical blood shortage after winter storms cancel blood drives

The American Red Cross is experiencing a critical shortage of blood donations after a winter storm ripped through much of the Northeast last week, forcing the organization to cancel numerous blood drives, reports the Finger Lakes Times.

Here are four things to know.

1. Red Cross canceled 10 blood drives in New York last week, representing 235 lost donations.

2. Extreme weather, seasonal illnesses and busy holiday schedules have caused 150 blood drive cancellations nationwide this season, leaving more than 5,500 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected.

3. In January and December, the Red Cross collected about 28,000 fewer donations than necessary to keep up with nationwide demand.

4. The organization issued an urgent call for all eligible donors Jan. 8. The Red Cross encourages people with all blood types to donate, although types O-negative and B-negative are the most critically needed.

"Even temporary disruptions to blood and platelet donations can diminish the availability for hospital patients," said Patty Corvaia, communications manager of the New York-Penn Red Cross Blood Services Region, in a press release. "It's the blood on the shelves that helps save lives in an emergency, and that’s why we’re asking eligible individuals to make an appointment to give blood or platelets today."

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