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Severe Winter Leaves Blood Banks in Need

Bad weather has shortened the supply of blood in blood banks across the country. (PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay)
Bad weather has shortened the supply of blood in blood banks across the country. (PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay)
January 5, 2017

GREAT FALLS, Mont. -- The American Red Cross has issued an emergency call for help - including at its five donation centers in Montana.

The organization needs blood and platelet donors after 37,000 fewer donations than expected came in at blood banks across the nation in November and December. Joe Zydlo, communications manager at the American Red Cross, said donations are critically needed so patients can continue to receive life-saving treatments.

"Any blood type - A, A Positive, O, O Negative, B Negative - any and every blood type is needed,” Zydlo said.

Anyone can go online to to find the nearest donation site by entering a ZIP Code.

Zydlo said this is the time of the year when blood donations are typically low because of the holidays, and bad weather is an additional factor that often keeps people from getting to donation sites. But the need is there 365 days a year.

"Hospitals don't get a vacation; they don't get to take a holiday,” Zydlo said. "There's patients that need it - cancer patients need platelet donations, too, that's so critical. It could be a life-threatening type of situation."

According to Zydlo, about 20 percent of blood drives are held at schools - so when they're closed, it really makes an impact. Snowstorms and severe weather across the country forced nearly 100 blood drives to be canceled in December, Zydlo said, resulting in thousands of potential blood donations going uncollected.

"This is really one of two times of the year when we go into an emergency appeal - where we have this critical, emergency shortage, if you will, and it's really impacted us,” he said.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - MT