It says the recent cold weather has hurt efforts to collect blood and platelets.
Frederick, Md (KM). There’s an urgent need for blood and platelet donations. Regina Boothe Bratton with the Baltimore and Washington Region of the Red Cross says there was a strong need for blood a few months ago when Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria struck the southern United States and Puerto Rico. Add to that the mass shootings in Las Vegas, Texas and other locations. “This area, the Maryland area, contributed heavily to help support the recovery efforts and the relief efforts for those disasters,” she says.
To top all that off, the extremely cold weather cut down on a number of blood drives in December. “We had to cancel about 150 blood drives because of the weather,” says Bratton. “And that caused us to lose about 5500 blood and platelet donations as a result of those canceled drives.”
She points out that blood and platelets must be used almost immediately after they’re taken from a donor. “When the blood is collected and processed, It has a very short shelf life,” says Bratton. “Platelets have a five day shelf life; and whole blood has about a 40-day shelf life. So not very long.”
The Red Cross is urging anyone who wants to donate to roll up their sleeves. They need to be in good health and weigh at least 100 pounds.
The need is greatest for platelets, and blood types B-negative, O-negative and AB. But Bratton says all blood types are welcome.
The blood is used for surgeries, cancer patients and other medical needs.
To donate, call 1-800-RED-CROSS (733-2767); or go on line to redcross.org. Bratton also encourages residents to use that website to download the free Blood Donor app which can find a blood or platelet donation opportunity within their home town, and schedule an appointment.
By Kevin McManus