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Blood supply shortage plagues U.S.

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More than 770 collection drives canceled because of weather

By Gina Clear

The weather is causing problems beyond school closings and salt shortages.

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The American Red Cross is experiencing a shortage in its blood supply nationwide, said Sharon Thompson, director of volunteers and youth at the Elizabethtown branch.

More than 770 blood drives have been canceled nationwide, causing a 25,000 blood-unit shortage, Thompson said.

“Weather is so bad in some areas, people don’t feel they can get out in it,” she said. “Our concern in winter always is the flu. The flu knocks out donors, but now it’s the flu and weather.”

Thompson said the shortage may effect medical treatment, especially elective surgeries.

“When someone needs medical attention, we don’t want the lack of blood to be a problem,” she said. “The weather has caused a crimp.”

To battle the problem, Thompson said American Red Cross recruiters have been calling past donors to see if they are eligible and willing to contribute again. The organization also is trying to schedule more mobile donation drives, especially as the weather may begin to warm in early March and on through April.

“By then, we’re hoping this weather is all over with,” she said.

Jose Rivera of Elizabethtown received an email from American Red Cross and decided to attend a blood drive Friday at Pritchard Community Center to help with the demand, although he also jokingly said he came for the snacks and water.

“When I read that there was a shortage in an email, I looked to see when I was eligible,” he said.

Repeat donors are eligible every eight weeks.

“They celebrate my eligibility by having another blood drive,” Rivera said. “I’m bleeding for a cause.”

Thompson said even if donors only give twice a year, they are eligible to give more often and the organization encourages donors to come in on their own.

Gina Clearcan be reached at 270-505-1746 or gclear@thenewsenterprise.com.