Red Cross faces severe blood shortages

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Ongoing severe winter weather has more than doubled the number of canceled American Red Cross blood drives and the resulting blood and platelet donation shortfall since earlier this month. The Red Cross now considers the situation critical and is reissuing an urgent call for blood and platelet donors.

More than 550 blood drives have been forced to cancel due to winter weather in January, causing over 16,500 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected through last week. In the Red Cross Tennessee Valley Blood Services Region, which includes middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky, 54 blood drives have been forced to cancel due to winter weather this month, causing 1,470 donations to go uncollected. In addition, bitter cold and widespread flu have contributed to very low turnout at many blood drives.

"Blood and platelet donations are currently being distributed to hospitals faster than they are coming in," said Tiffany Taylor, external communications manager of the local Red Cross Blood Services Region "Donors are critically needed to restock the shelves for patients in their community as well as areas where donors are unable to give due to inclement weather."

Every day, no matter the weather, the Red Cross must collect more than 13,000 blood and platelet donations to meet the needs of patients like Finnegan "Finn" Olson. Last January, Finn was born with a rare heart condition. He required multiple transfusions before, during and after heart transplant surgery last summer. Transfusions had an almost immediate effect on his personality and skin's appearance.

"Each time Finn received a transfusion, you could see him pink up right away and have significantly more energy," said his mother, Ali Olson. "We credit blood donation with making Finn stronger and helping keep him alive long enough to receive a new heart. Finn is living proof that blood helps save lives."

Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767).