Midwest, East Coast Cold Snap to Blame for Critically Low Blood Supply

January 9, 2014 9:00 am · 12 comments

A seasonal drop in blood donations has produced a shortage of O-positive blood at the Stanford Blood Center and a nationwide shortage of platelets and types O, A-negative and B-negative due to the recent storms in the Midwest and East Coast, officials announced today.

According to Deanna Bolio, center spokeswoman, winter is an especially difficult time to maintain adequate supplies of blood because many blood donors are busy with the holidays, traveling or sick with a cold or flu.

She said that from Dec. 30 through Sunday, collections at the blood center were about half the usual amount. The blood center today is holding a two-day supply of O-positive, which she hopes to amp up to a safe five-day supply.

Bay Area residents with type O-positive blood are being asked to come to one of the Stanford Blood Centers or visit a mobile blood drive to boost the current inventory.

But it’s not just Stanford that’s feeling the pinch. Across the nation, the recent cold snap caused many routine donors to stay home, leaving the blood donation centers with an inconsistent flow of platelet donors and blood donors with types O, A-negative and B-negative, according to Jared Schultzman, communications manager at the Red Cross Northern California Blood Services Region.

The Red Cross estimates that approximately 280 blood drives across 25 states were canceled across the U.S. due to snow and extreme cold. The blood drive cancellations resulted in a shortfall of nearly 8,400 blood and platelet donations since Jan. 2, the Red Cross reported.

According to Schultzman, residents in the Bay Area can help boost donations immediately to offset the nation’s shortfall.

In an effort to increase supplies, donation centers throughout the Bay Area are holding extra donation drives this weekend beginning Friday through Wednesday. For a complete list of these centers, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org.

From Jan. 10 through Jan. 20 five Bay Area blood donation centers will extend their hours of operation by a half hour — opening 30 minutes early on Tuesday through Thursday and staying open an additional 30 minutes on Friday through Monday.

The locations for extended hours are the Oakland Blood Donation Center, 6230 Claremont Ave., Pleasant Hill Blood Donation Center, 140 Gregory Lane, Pleasanton Blood Donation Center, 5556-B Springdale Ave., Newark Blood Donation Center, 39227 Cedar Blvd., San Jose Blood Donation Center, 2731 N. First St.

In order to give blood, donors must be in good health with no cold or flu symptoms. They must eat well prior to donation, drink fluids and present a photo identification at the time of donation. The process takes about an hour.

For more information, call Stanford Blood Center at (888) 723-7831 or visit bloodcenter.stanford.edu or the American Red Cross at (800) 733-2767 or visit redcrossblood.org.

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J. January 9, 2014 at 9:19 AM

You must weigh more than 110 pounds to donate blood. Or, so I’m told.

Silva January 9, 2014 at 9:30 AM

If they’ll have mine, I’ll be giving it.

Q January 9, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Can you donate blood if takeing perscriptions?

Ted K. January 9, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Blame it on global warming!

question January 9, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Sorry, but no, risks of transferring infections to the patients are too great. Even with the medications to treat the infections, the risk is still too great.

Frank L. January 9, 2014 at 11:02 AM

Time to donate blood at the Red Cross in Oakland.

I think I weigh more than 110 lbs.

Silva January 9, 2014 at 11:40 AM

Q. The Red Cross WILL accept blood from people on medications. You simply need to contact them with a list of your medications and what you take them for. They have a direct phone number to call;

Eligibility Department-Donor Client Support Center

Or you can call the number listed on this article and select #2.

Dorothy January 9, 2014 at 3:02 PM

They won’t take mine anymore, just can’t get it out of me any longer.

Anon January 9, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Homosexuals, persons who have engaged in homosexual activity, intravenous drug users, and persons who have engaged in sex for money are not allowed to donate blood.

Elwood January 9, 2014 at 5:34 PM

I was a donor for many years.

I wish health problems didn’t preclude my donating now.

old sage January 10, 2014 at 12:11 AM

Used to give regularly at Shadelands office, but they closed it. I can go to Antioch I guess.

Jamie DeVriend January 13, 2014 at 2:58 PM

I’m glad the local blood bank is extending its hours. I’ve been encouraging friends to donate as often as possible. One doesn’t need to wait for a blood drive to help!

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