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Flu, cold weather cause Red Cross blood shortage

The next Red Cross blood drive in Umatilla County is Monday in Milton-Freewater.
Jade McDowell

East Oregonian

Published on January 25, 2018 7:15PM

The Red Cross is facing a “critical” blood shortage as a particularly widespread flu season and cold weather have kept people from donating.

Record-setting low temperatures and other severe weather in some parts of the country has caused the cancellation of 550 blood drives so far in January, representing 16,500 donations that went uncollected, while blood drives that remained on schedule have seen large numbers of people cancel their appointment due to illness.

“Blood and platelet donations are currently being distributed to hospitals faster than they are coming in,” Neil Tosuntikool, donor recruitment director of the Pacific Northwest Red Cross Blood Services Region, said in a statement. “Donors are critically needed to restock the shelves for patients in their community as well as areas where donors are unable to give due to inclement weather.”

According to the Red Cross, the organization accounts for about 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply and needs at least 13,000 blood and platelet donations per day to keep up with demand. The most useful blood donations come from those with O-negative blood, since it’s the universal blood type that can be used in any patient, while AB-positive is the universal plasma donor.

Blood drive locations can be found online at redcrossblood.org or by downloading the Red Cross Blood App, which allows users to locate drives, schedule appointments, track their donations and earn rewards. Potential donors can also call 1-800-733-2767.

The next Red Cross blood drive scheduled in Umatilla County is on Monday 1:30-6:30 p.m. at McLoughlin High School, 120 S. Main in Milton-Freewater. Good Shepherd Medical Center in Hermiston and St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton each have their next monthly blood drive on Feb. 19. For residents looking to donate sooner, Walla Walla and the Tri-Cities have a variety of blood drive options in the next month. Morrow County does not have any listed on the Red Cross website in the next month.


Contact Jade McDowell at jmcdowell@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4536.


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