Winter storms result in blood shortages at Red Cross

A van sits outside the Red Cross disaster response center in Fairfax, Va. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)

WASHINGTON – Winter can be a slow time of year for blood donations, especially if there is no natural disaster prompting people to give. But perhaps without warning, weather has caused a near-desperate situation at the Red Cross.

It caused the organization to shut down more than 770 blood drives nationwide, and the impact is felt.

“That’s equivalent to the Red Cross across the U.S. shutting down for an entire day,” says Steve Mavica with the Red Cross.

Forty of the canceled collection drives were in the Chesapeake-Potomac region, and 60 hospitals in the region depend on blood donated by the drives in the mid- Atlantic.

“The wintertime is tough for us to collect blood. Throw the holidays in, and people just — either their schedules won’t permit it or the weather is so bad they can’t come in,” he says.

But with the back-to-back storms, reserves are at an unsettling level and donations are needed, specifically of types O, A and B negative, Mavica says.

“The blood we collect in this region goes to helping trauma victims, cancer patients, those with blood-borne diseases for the Baltimore-Washington area,” Mavica says.

Put in your ZIP code and find the closest donation center on the Red Cross website.

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