PRINCETON — This year’s winter snows and frigid temperatures have caused a national shortage of blood for the American Red Cross.
According to the Quad Cities American Red Cross, of which Bureau County is a member, winter storms and freezing temperatures have resulted in thousands of uncollected blood and platelet donations. Since the beginning of January, winter storms and freezing temperatures have resulted in more than 600 American Red Cross blood drive cancellations and nearly 20,000 uncollected blood and platelet donations. Overall, 26 states and Washington, D.C., have had blood drives canceled because of weather.
On Monday, Bureau County Red Cross Director Lori Compton said she is not aware of any local blood drives which were cancelled this winter, but donor turnout has not been as good as when the weather cooperates.
As an example, the last big blood drive in Princeton was scheduled on Jan. 9 at the First United Methodist Church in Princeton, but it had to be relocated to St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church due to problems with the furnace at the Methodist Church, Compton said. Typically the blood drive would have gotten about 50 units, but the drive got about 30 units instead, she said.
Winters, even the milder ones, are more challenging when it comes to getting people to the blood drives, Compton said. The colder winter weather doesn’t help with people wanting to get outside and also many of the older donors, who are faithful givers, are snowbirds who head south in the winter for warmer weather.
Adding to the problem, there is also typically an increased need for blood during the winter months. There are more traffic accidents due to snowy or ice-covered roads. There may be more cases of heart attacks if people overexert themselves while shoving snow. There’s a greater risk of house fires in the winter months as people may use space heaters more or use fireplaces without cleaning them, she added.
As far as the type of blood needed right now by the American Red Cross, Compton said there is always a need for the negative types of blood. But with the national shortage right now, all types of blood will be taken and put to good use, she said.
Looking ahead, Compton said there are five blood drives scheduled for February throughout Bureau County, four in March and seven in April. Typically, the local chapter averages five to eight blood drives a month for the entire year, she said.
Two of the coming blood drives are Feb. 13 at the Farm Bureau Building in Princeton and Feb. 19 at Hall High School in Spring Valley. All blood collected in Bureau County is processed in Peoria and then shipped to wherever it is needed.
“It’s important to give blood because every unit of blood can save possibly three lives. The person in need could be your neighbor going in for surgery or a family member who has been in an accident. It could be you,” Compton said. “Giving blood is a good way to help others.”
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