Winter weather spurs blood shortages

6 years ago

AROOSTOOK COUNTY — This January, National Blood Donor Month, the American Red Cross has an urgent need for blood and platelet donors of all blood types to help address a winter blood donation shortage, and plans a number of local blood drives in the coming week.

Severe winter weather has had a tremendous impact on blood donations already this year, canceling more than 150 blood drives and causing over 5,500 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected. This is in addition to seasonal illnesses, such as the flu, and hectic holiday schedules collectively contributing to more than 28,000 fewer donations than what was needed in November and December.

In Maine, 10 blood drives were forced to cancel due to last week’s winter storm, causing 277 donations to go uncollected.

“Even temporary disruptions to blood and platelet donations can diminish the availability for hospital patients,” said Mary Brant, external communications manager of the Northern New England Red Cross Blood Services Region. “It’s the blood on the shelves that helps save lives in an emergency, and that’s why we’re asking eligible individuals to make an appointment to give blood or platelets today.”  

In Aroostook County, the Red Cross has planned blood drives as follows:

Houlton — Saturday, Jan. 13., 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Maliseet Rollerama, 494 North St. Tuesday, Jan. 16, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Houlton Regional Hospital, 20 Hartford St.

Madawaska — Wednesday, Jan. 17, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Madawaska High School, 135 7th Ave.

Mars Hill — Monday, Jan. 15, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Mars Hill Rec Center, 10 ACI St.

Presque Isle — Thursday, Jan. 18, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Aroostook Band of Micmacs Wellness Building, 56 Micmac Dr.

Van Buren — Tuesday, Jan. 16, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Van Buren High School, 169 Main St.

While serving local hospitals is the first priority, the Red Cross can move blood products to where they’re needed most. While all blood types are urgently needed, there is a more critical need for the following blood and donation types right now:

  • Platelets: The clotting portion of blood primarily given to cancer patients during treatment and always in great demand.
  • Type O negative: The blood type that can be transfused to almost everyone and is what doctors reach for in trauma situations.
  • Type B negative: The blood type that can be transfused to type B Rh-positive and negative patients.
  • Type AB: The plasma type that can be transfused to almost everyone and can be donated through a platelet or plasma donation, where available, or during a regular blood donation.

How to help

Eligible donors can find a blood or platelet donation opportunity and schedule an appointment to donate by using the free Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).