Weather puts crimp on blood donations

By Stacy Kess

February 13, 2014

The Red Cross of Central Ohio is asking for more blood donors after a dry start to 2014.

“We’re still seeing very low donor turnout and I think weather continues to be a factor,” said Rodney Wilson, a spokesperson for the Central Ohio blood program. “We’re 10 percent below where we need to be.”

Severe cold and heavy snowfall in January and early February forced the Red Cross to cancel 51 Central Ohio blood drives, translating to about 1,300 blood donations not collected, he said. The Red Cross expects some decrease in the winter due to colds and flu symptoms, but the shortfall exceeded those usually seen in January.

Wilson said the need is urgent because blood donations are used for surgeries, cancer treatments, treatments for sickle cell disorders, treatments for blood loss and traumas and other procedures. Donors of all types are needed, he said, but the most urgent need are key blood types: O-positive, O-negative, A-negative and B-negative.

“We’re still able to meet hospital requirements for blood, but it’s being distributed as fast as it’s coming in,” he said. “We don’t have any extra on hand in case of big traumatic emergencies.”

As the Red Cross of Central Ohio works to rebuild a blood supply thinned by canceled drives in January, Wilson said the national blood supply is taking a blow by snow storms hitting the Southeast.

Nationally, 1,000 blood drives have been canceled since Jan. 1 and the Red Cross says it is down an estimated 35,000 donations.

“Giving blood is very important,” said Jennifer Birtler-Clark, senior donor recruitment representative for the American Red Cross Central Ohio Region. “Why? Always remember to pay it forward because you can’t always pay it back.”

The Red Cross of Central Ohio has added incentives to attract donors including a coupon for a free doughnut courtesy of Tim Hortons. Donors can also enter to win free groceries for a year from Kroger. A blood drive schedule and locations can be found at or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).