Snowstorm delivers blow to local blood supply

WASHINGTON — Winter storm Jonas played havoc with drug supplies — both here and along the East Coast.

Blood supplies typically run a bit low this time of year thanks to the holidays and cold temperatures. But the historic storm that blanketed the D.C. region forced blood donation centers to close their doors for days at a time, and blood drives to be put on hold.

“We are in an emergency situation in this area,” says Steve Mavica with the American Red Cross. “Any further depletion of an already low supply can get us in a situation where we don’t have enough blood available to be distributed to hospitals.”

Mavica works with the Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Blood Services Region, which runs Red Cross donation centers and blood drives throughout the D.C.-Baltimore area.

It is one of the major players in local blood banks, but hardly the only one.

Inova Blood Centers in Northern Virginia is also issuing an all-out appeal to donors to come to come in as soon as possible.

“We are at critical levels for pretty much every blood product,” says Terri Craddock, who directs the four blood centers.

She says red blood cells and platelets — which have a five-day shelf life — are in particularly low supply, and all blood types are needed.

Inova — like the Red Cross — does most of its blood collection at volunteer drives held at schools, community centers and houses of worship. Craddock says they get 70 percent of their supply from blood drives, and a week’s worth of these donations have been lost to the storm.

Invova Blood Centers have registration and scheduling information available online, as does the Red Cross. You also can get information by phone by calling 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-866-BLOODSAVES (866-256-6372) for Inova.

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