Winter weather, ongoing COVID-19 surge worsen blood supply crisis

Staff Reports

Blood and platelet donation appointments critically needed amid first-ever Red Cross blood crisis.

While there has been a significant and encouraging response to the dire need for blood across the nation, the American Red Cross needs more people to give in the weeks ahead to recover from its worst blood shortage in more than a decade. Those interested in helping are urged to schedule the earliest-available blood or platelet donation appointment in their area to help ensure accident victims rushed to the emergency room, those being treated for cancer and others who count on blood product transfusions can receive lifesaving care without delay.

Dire blood shortages have now resulted in cutbacks to blood supplies made available to hospitals.

Since the Red Cross issued its first-ever blood crisis alert, severe winter weather has further complicated efforts to rebuild the blood supply. Hundreds of blood drives have been canceled across the country due to winter storms in January, forcing about 6,500 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected. In the Western New York region, recent winter weather has contributed to lower donor turnout impacting the number of units collected at various drives by nearly 50 percent.

As the effects from the spread of the omicron variant and winter weather persist, people are urged to make an appointment now to give blood or platelets in the weeks ahead by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

*Those who come to give blood or platelets Feb. 1-28, will receive a $10 Amazon.com Gift Card via email, thanks to Amazon.*

Local blood donation events

Tuesday, Feb. 8: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. at Keuka College, 141 Central Ave., Keuka Park.

Wednesday, Feb. 23: 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. at Wellspring Fellowship, 463 Main St., Penn Yan.

Thursday, Feb. 24: 1:30 - 6:30 p.m. at Branchport Fire Department, 3686 Route 54A, Branchport.

Friday, Feb. 25: 2 - 6:30 p.m. at the Hall Fire Hall, 4890 Route 14A, Hall.

Employment and volunteer opportunities available

During this challenging time, the Red Cross is also actively recruiting blood collection employees and blood drive volunteers who play vital roles in supporting the nation’s blood supply. The Red Cross encourages those interested to learn more about joining our team by visiting redcross.org/careers. For volunteer opportunities to support Red Cross blood collections, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.

Blood drive safety

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including face masks for donors and staff, regardless of vaccination status – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive.

Save time during donation

Donors can also save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive by completing a RapidPass. With RapidPass, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. To complete a RapidPass, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

To donate blood, individuals need to bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification that are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements.

Health insights for donors

At a time when health information has never been more important, the Red Cross is screening all blood, platelet and plasma donations from self-identified African American donors for the sickle cell trait. This additional screening will provide Black donors with an additional health insight and help the Red Cross identify compatible blood types more quickly to help patients with sickle cell disease who require trait-negative blood. Blood transfusion is an essential treatment for those with sickle cell disease, and blood donations from individuals of the same race, ethnicity and blood type have a unique ability to help patients fighting sickle cell disease.

Donors can expect to receive sickle cell trait screening results, if applicable, within one to two weeks through the Red Cross Blood Donor App and the online donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.

About the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.