Weather shuts down blood donor drives, increases need

(Radio Iowa) – With last week’s extremely cold weather, more than 300 blood drives across the region were canceled and the American Red Cross missed out on collecting some nine-thousand units of blood. April Oppliger, spokeswoman for the Red Cross chapter in Omaha/Council Bluffs, says an appeal is going out for donors across Iowa to come forward. “The Red Cross is encouraging platelet donors and especially O-negative, A-negative, B-negative and O-positive donors to come out and help us replenish the blood supply.”

The weather phenomenon known as the polar vortex, which brought Iowa wind chill levels of 50-below zero last week, isn’t the only culprit that’s kept donors away. Oppliger says, “It’s the time of year where people are afflicted with colds and flu so all of those things combined make it especially important that people come out and give blood right now.”

She says winter is traditionally one of the slowest times for donations anyway, so the severe cold that forced blood drive cancellations has compounded the problem.

“Every single one of those blood donations that was missed are units that we had promised to our hospitals,” she says. “That’s why it’s extremely important for people to come out and give blood and platelets now.” To make an appointment anywhere in Iowa, call 800-Red-Cross.