Updated: March 21, 2014 7:15AM
This winter’s extreme weather is to blame for a national blood shortage, causing the cancellation of more than 1,000 Red Cross blood drives from Jan. 2 through Feb. 10 in 34 states, according to a Red Cross spokesman.
Approximately 35,000 units of blood and platelets went uncollected — the equivalent of shutting down the Red Cross’ national blood supply for more than two full days, spokesman Ben Corey said.
Aurora-based Heartland Blood Centers is experiencing similar losses. Canceled drives, missed appointments and illnesses left the group down about 2,000 units in January, according to Heartland representative Jill Moeggenberg. That’s about a 15 percent decrease for an organization that collects about 160,000 units each year, she said.
“Many of our blood types are well below what they should be,” she said. “Many donors have called to cancel because they have been sick.”
Moeggenberg did not want to ask for specific blood types because she does not want to discourage any donation and all blood types are needed.
Corey said the Red Cross is making a direct appeal for types O negative, O positive, B negative and A negative.
“Platelets, a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, are also urgently needed,” according to a Red Cross press release. “Platelets must be transfused within five days of donation, so donations are constantly needed.”
There are 15 Heartland Donation Centers across the Chicago area, including one at 16100 Centennial Circle in Tinley Park.
Moeggenberg encourages people to host a drive, saying that groups that are already hosting events could piggy-back a blood drive. Any church, school, business or other organization is encouraged to host a drive, she said.
To make a donation or schedule a
drive, visit www.redcrossblood.org or to www.heartlandbc.org.