Red Cross has urgent need for blood, platelet donations

Posted Monday, January 20, 2014 --- 3:53 p.m.

From our news partner, WITI in Milwaukee:

MADISON (WITI) – The American Red Cross is asking all eligible blood and platelet donors to help offset a weather-related shortfall in donations.

Nearly 320 blood drives in 25 states were canceled this month due to snow and extreme cold. The cancellations caused a shortfall of more than 9,300 blood and platelet donations. In Iowa, winter weather forced the cancellation of three Red Cross blood drives, resulting in 86 uncollected blood and platelet donations. In Wisconsin, winter weather forced 14 Red Cross blood drives to be canceled, resulting in 566 fewer than expected blood and platelet donations.

“It’s the blood products already on the shelves that help save lives when winter weather hits,” said Greg Novinska, the Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross Badger-Hawkeye Blood Services Region. “Thanks to generous Red Cross blood and platelet donors, blood products were available for patients who still needed transfusions, despite the weather. Now we invite those previously frozen out from giving blood or platelets to come in soon.”

Blood donors, as well as platelet donors, with the most in-demand blood types – O positive and negative, A negative and B negative – are urgently needed to give blood in the days and weeks ahead. Red blood cells, the oxygen-carrying component of blood, are the most widely transfused blood product, and they must be transfused within 42 days of donation. Platelets, a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, must be transfused within five days.

How to donate blood

Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit to make an appointment or for more information.

A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), 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 have to meet certain height and weight requirements.