The American Red Cross is in need of donations as winter weather impacts blood supply


CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The American Red Cross is calling for all eligible blood and platelet donors to make an appointment to give. This ask comes to help offset the weather-related shortfall in donations across the country.

For the American Red Cross, the winter storms have forced the cancellation of hundreds of blood drives in 30 states and have caused more than 15,000 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected. Those donations are critical for both everyday patients here in the Lowcountry and for those in the affected areas of the nation.

Ben Williamson with the American Red Cross of South Carolina said while the weather may seem moderately cold, but overall mild, in South Carolina, it’s a dire situation elsewhere. Williamson said, “we’ve got people that have gone days without power, freezing temperatures.”

The hundreds of canceled American Red Cross blood drives canceled by the lack of electricity in much of the country have only made the typical slow donation months that much more difficult in 2021.

Blood is not something like money that you can put in the bank and store it away for a time, you’ve got to have donors who consistently come out, who consistently give, and who consistently replenish the blood supply. 

Ben Williamson, Red Cross SC 

So what can you do?  Williamson said the first step is to ensure you are eligible to donate blood, platelets, or plasma. That means being of age, not being ill for at least 14 days ahead of donations, and not having pre-existing conditions that would deter you from donating.

The next step is making an appointment and keeping it. Williamson said that if you’re a person or organization that can host a blood drive, it’s incredibly vital to do so now as they are seeing a huge decrease in national inventory due to the winter storms. 

As of now, the American Red Cross of South Carolina is on standby for deployment to the affected areas as well as for virtual assistance services. If and when that status changes, you can count on us to update you both LIVE on-air and online.

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center has COVID-19 precautions that include temperature checks, social distancing, and face coverings for donors and staff. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face-covering or mask while donating.

You can make a donation appointment with the Red Cross by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device. To make an appointment online, click here.

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