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Harsh winter hampers blood donations

Harsh winter hampers blood donations

Maureen Wellman, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross, said there is an urgent need for blood donations i
Harsh winter hampers blood donations
The American Red Cross administers a blood drive at Saratoga Casino and Raceway's Vapor nightclub on in this Jan. 21, 2013, photo. (Gazette file photo)

The American Red Cross is out for blood.

Maureen Wellman, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross, said there is an urgent need for blood donations in the Capital Region and other parts of the country.

Severe winter weather has affected the Red Cross’ ability to secure donations at blood drives. “The impact has been nationwide and also locally,” Wellman said. “From the beginning of January, we’ve seen more than 1,500 blood drives canceled around the country. Right now, we’re in a situation where donations of all blood types are currently needed.”

Last Friday, an “urgent need” sign was posted next to a sign announcing a weekend blood drive at the YMCA in Guilderland.

Wellman said blood types O-negative, O-positive, B-negative and A-negative are in demand. The need for more blood donors, Wellman added, does not represent a crisis situation.

“I would say we’re meeting hospital demands,” Wellman said. “The problem is we have a deficit of collection. Meeting hospital demand is a delicate balance. We have to have a constant stream of blood donations to make sure we can continue to meet hospital needs.”

Snowstorms have closed high schools, colleges and other buildings where Red Cross blood drives take place on a regular basis. If the buildings do not open, the drives cannot be held.

Drives that have proceeded during snowy days have lost some regular visitors.

“If you’re not going out to buy bread or milk, you’re not going out to donate blood,” Wellman said.

She added that “urgent need” alerts tend to happen during severe winters. There can also be a need for increased blood donations during the summer, when schools and colleges are not in session.

Donors can make an appointment for blood drives by calling 1-800-RedCross or by visiting redcrossblood.org.

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