Red Cross winter blood shortage reaches critical level


Severe winter weather, seasonal flu contributes to spike in canceled donations

Ongoing severe winter weather has more than doubled the number of canceled American Red Cross blood drives and the resulting blood and platelet donation shortfall since earlier this month. The Red Cross now considers the situation critical and is reissuing an urgent call for blood and platelet donors.

More than 550 blood drives have been forced to cancel due to winter weather in January, causing over 16,500 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected through last week. In addition, bitter cold and widespread flu have contributed to very low turnout at many blood drives.

“Blood and platelet donations are currently being distributed to hospitals faster than they are coming in,” said Clifford Numark, senior vice president, Red Cross Blood Services. “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.”

Every day, no matter the weather, the Red Cross must collect more than 13,000 blood and platelet donations to meet the needs of patients like Finnegan “Finn” Olson. Last January, Finn was born with a rare heart condition. He required multiple transfusions before, during and after heart transplant surgery last summer. Transfusions had an almost immediate effect on his personality and skin’s appearance.

“Each time Finn received a transfusion, you could see him pink up right away and have significantly more energy,” said his mother, Ali Olson. “We credit blood donation with making Finn stronger and helping keep him alive long enough to receive a new heart. Finn is living proof that blood helps save lives.”

Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Upcoming blood donation opportunities

La Crescent

• February 15, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Noble RV, 3627 North County Road 45


• January 31, 8:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m., Plainview Elgin Millville High School, 500 West Broadway


• February 5, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Community Senior Center, 75 Rice Street


• February 1, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., County Office Building, 202 West Third Street
• February 5, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., American Legion Post #9, 302 East Sarnia
• February 6, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Winona State University, Student Union-Kryzsko Commons
• February 7, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Winona State University, Student Union-Kryzsko Commons
• February 7, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., Express Suites River Port Inn, 900 Bruski Drive
• February 8, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Winona State University, Student Union-Kryzsko Commons
• February 9, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, 360 Main Street
• February 12, 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., St. Anne Extended Healthcare, 1347 West Broadway
• February 15, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., Watkins Manor, 175 E. Wabasha

How to donate blood

Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally 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.

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at or use the Blood Donor App.

Volunteers needed

Another way to support the lifesaving mission of the American Red Cross is to become a volunteer transportation specialist and deliver lifesaving blood products to local area hospitals. Volunteer transportation specialists play a very important role in ensuring an ample blood supply for patients in need by transporting blood and blood products. For more information and to apply for a volunteer transportation specialist position please contact North Central Volunteer Services at, call 651-291-3360, or visit

About the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit on Twitter at @RedCross.


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