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Winter weather putting chill on blood donations

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

 

When the mercury drops and flakes start to fly, venturing outdoors becomes more difficult. However, the need for blood doesn’t change with the weather.

Virginia Blood Services (VBS) and American Red Cross are urging blood donors to “endure” the cold and snow and make their way to a blood drive or donor center over the next few weeks.

Extremely cold weather has impacted blood supplies due to the cancellation of blood drives or donors having to cancel their appointments.

According to the Red Cross, more than 450 of its blood drives have been cancelled since the beginning of January, resulting in nearly 13,600 blood and platelet donations being uncollected.

Although platelet donations are in particular need, according to VBS, Red Cross points out there also is an “urgent” need for blood types O positive, O negative, A negative and B negative. Eligible donors with these blood types are especially encouraged to make an appointment.

However, both agencies urge donors to make sure it is safe to travel before trying to visit a donor center or bloodmobile.

“First and foremost, we want our donors to be safe in these winter conditions and to visit us when they feel safe traveling,” said Julie Moore, VBS’ executive director, “but we need more blood donations to rebuild our community blood supply to appropriate levels to ensure high-quality patient care.”

The closest VBS Donor Center is at 131 Electric Road in Salem.

Upcoming Red Cross bloodmobiles include:

•Feb. 12, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., New River Community College in Dublin, Edwards Hall.

•Feb. 24, noon to 6 p.m., Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Pulaski.

•March 24, noon to 6 p.m., Dublin Lions Club Building, Dublin.

For more information on VBS donor centers, visit  vablood.org, or call  800-989-4438.

For more information about Red Cross blood drives, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Individuals who are at least 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in Virginia), weigh at least 110 pounds and in good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.