American Red Cross: Critical Need for Donors

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The American Red Cross has issued an urgent call for blood and platelet donations.

Todd Kulman - with the Red Cross of MI - says the severe winter weather over the past few weeks has been a major cause of the shortage, along with high levels of sick people during this cold and flu season.

Blood donations typically slow down over the holidays because high schools and colleges are off throughout most of those months and don't schedule blood drives at those times.

As members of the American Red Cross start the new year, they unfortunately face a hard time for blood collections during the challenging winter months.

"Even temporary disruptions to blood and platelet donations can diminish the availability for hospital patients", said Patty Corvaia, communications manager of the New York-Penn Red Cross Blood Services Region. The American Red Cross says these affected more than 28,000 fewer donations than needed in November and December. "Sometimes they'll send a friend or family member in their spot to donate so we don't lose that blood product".

The agency also needs type O negative blood, which is a universal blood type that anyone can receive. Any healthy person 17 or older (or 16 with parental consent) may be eligible to donate, although there are height and weight restrictions for people 16 to 18 years old.

The Red Cross says they will be accepting all types of blood but especially need Platelets, Type O Negative, Type B negative, and Type AB.

Eligible donors with types O, A negative and B negative blood are urged to make a Power Red donation, where available.

January is officially known as National Blood Donor Month.