By Rachel Baldwin
CHARLESTON - Officials of the American Red Cross, Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region, have expressed concern about the combined effects of this week’s wintry weather and widespread colds and flu on its organization’s efforts to meet collection targets and patient need.
“More healthy blood donors of all blood types are needed, particularly those with type O negative and B negative blood. Colds and flu may be contributing factors to an increased number of donor appointment cancellations,” said John Hagins, CEO of the Greater Alleghenies Region.
He added that this week’s extreme temperatures and periods of snow have resulted in blood drive cancellations and lower-than-usual donor turnout in many portions of the 100-county blood services region.
“Several blood drive sponsors have reported that their usual donors have said the weather has prevented them from donating blood,” Hagins said.
According to the Red Cross, approximately 38 percent of the public is eligible to donate blood, while only a fraction of those eligible donate each year. Hagins emphasized that donating blood will not cause you to be more susceptible to the flu. Your resistance to the flu will not be compromised simply by giving blood. There is no waiting period to donate blood after receiving a flu vaccine, as long as you are feeling healthy and well the day of donation.
With warmer weather forecast for the remainder of the month, the Red Cross urges the public to donate blood at an upcoming Red Cross blood drive. To schedule an appointment to donate, please call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or visit redcrossblood.org for more information.
Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet weight and height requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height), and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. Individuals should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when they come to donate.
The Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region serves blood donors, sponsors, patients and hospitals in 100 counties, and needs to collect about 700 units of blood and platelets a day to meet patient need in 81 hospitals.
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org.