Flu epidemic causes Red Cross blood shortage to reach critical level

Flu epidemic causes Red Cross blood shortage to reach critical level

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Ongoing severe winter weather has more than doubled the number of canceled blood drives in 2018. The Red Cross now considers the situation critical and is reissuing an urgent call for donors.

Nationwide, more than 550 blood drives have been forced to cancel so far just this year alone. This has caused over 16,500 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected through last week.

In Ohio, canceled blood drives have caused a shortfall of more than 700 blood donations. The blood drives that have still occurred, have had lower than usual turnout rates, furthering the deficit of both blood and platelets.

Rachel Hepner-Zawodny, Executive Director for the Northwest Ohio branch of The American Red Cross explained why the need is so large.

"It's not just people being sick. We're coming off the holidays with that holiday kind of let down, and the weather hasn't exactly cooperated as well. So when we see, you know, the snow come or the ice come, people generally maybe don't feel comfortable driving in it so they don't go out and donate," said Hepner-Zawodny. "So, I think it's kind of a triple-whammy but we are in a critical need for blood right now."

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.

Nick Sturt has been a regular donor since he began in high school. Nick had nothing but wonderful things to say about The Red Cross. When he donates it varies between donating platelets and donating extra red blood cells when he gives blood.

"I'm a universal donor so it's just my way of giving, you know, giving back, and yeah, I just like to help," explained Sturt.

The donation center on Executive Parkway typically sees the highest turnout before the holiday season. There are a good number of loyal donors who make it in regularly, but unfortunately, it's not enough to meet the demand.

Herbert Priest is a lifelong donor. He started in the Army in his teens.

He has since gotten his daughters and adult grandson, who is now in the Navy, to donate as well.

"It feels like a good responsibility that I can easily take care of. I have the wherewithal, I'm still healthy, why not?," said Priest.

As long as you're healthy, you are eligible to donate once every 56 days.

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.

Simply download the

American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit here or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information.

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