WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – January is always a slow month for blood donations at the American Red Cross but severe winter weather nationwide last weekend didn’t help.
The organization had already issued an emergency blood donation appeal earlier in the month but now the situation is worse.
When severe weather hits it creates a twofold problem: more people need blood and fewer people can give it.
The Red Cross had to issue an emergency blood donation appeal because right now, hospitals are in a position where they need blood faster than what’s being brought in.
This month alone, hundreds of blood drives have been cancelled because of the weather. That’s thousands of uncollected blood donations.
“Blood is a product that expires so there is a constant need, right? Everyone can give every 56 days but the blood lasts an average of 42 days, talking about whole blood here, so you can see that there’s always a need to keep it replenished,” said Michelle Jantz, with the American Red Cross.
The weather really slows that replenish process down, Jantz said.
“Think about all the travel disruptions you’re hearing about all the weather that’s happening. All those instances can cause blood drives to either cancel or maybe donors can’t get out or then you throw in cold and flu season, which we’re seeing everywhere,” Jantz said. “Everyone’s coughing and sick and all of that really impacts the ability to really collect enough blood.”
The irony is that January is Blood Donor Month.
One of the biggest factors that play a role in slowing the month down is shear timing. After the holidays it takes time for everyone to get back into a routine, Jantz said.
“We know that only about 38 percent of the nation is even eligible to give blood and then we know only about 10 percent of those that are eligible give so you can see that’s a very small number,” she said.
KSN spoke with one woman while she was donating blood despite the winter weather.
Beth Lichty donates regularly after seeing the impact of the Tuscaloosa tornado a few years back when she lived in Alabama.
It’s easy, painless and a great way to help people in need, she said.
“I have no idea where my blood went but just knowing that somebody was able to get it and get healed fasted… It’s a small thing that I can do,” Lichty said.
To learn how you can help and donate to the American Red Cross, click here.