Hurricane Matthew: How you can help

WASHINGTON — Hurricane Matthew is still pounding the Atlantic coast, even after being downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane. The storm has left much destruction behind, and the need for help is great.

Financial donations are important, but other types of donations are needed, too. One immediate need is for blood and platelet donations, the Red Cross said, because the storm forced the cancellation of at least 30 blood drives in the southeastern part of the U.S. That amounts to about 1,300 blood and platelet donations that have gone uncollected.

Platelets help the body form clots to stop bleeding. They last only five days and are often needed by cancer patients.

More cancellations are likely because of the storm, the Red Cross said. But even before the storm, there was already an urgent need for all types of blood donations, especially type “O,” they said.

Paul Carden, regional disaster officer with the American Red Cross in the National Capital Region, said people can help by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS to set up an appointment to donate blood.

“Or they can go to and download our blood donor app,” he said.

Carden said the lost blood donations from the canceled blood drives will still have to be made up in other regions of the country to offset the donation shortfall.

“We have a nationwide system where we collect blood, and if there’s surplus in one community but a need in another community, we move blood around,” he said. “If there’s a need, we’ll be moving blood wherever it’s required, but we’ve got to make up for those lost collections.”

Haiti has also been devastated by Hurricane Matthew, with scores left homeless. Handicap International reports the death toll is pushing toward 900, with at least 350,000 people in need of food, water and shelter.

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