Extreme Winter Weather Causes Blood Unit Shortage

Due to the extreme winter weather across Missouri, blood drives have had to cancel leading to a shortage in blood units.

Severe winter weather has caused many blood drives to be canceled, leading to a blood unit shortage according to the American Red Cross.

Northwest’s blood drive hosted by Student Senate and the Community Blood Center was one of the ones affected and forced to cancel due to weather.

Student Senate Civic Service Chair Drake Summers said that Student Senate has hosted three drives per academic year in the past years, but does not plan to make up the blood drive canceled in January.

“While we have had unforeseeable challenges with our winter blood drive, we are confident that we can continue our history of successful drives in April,” Summers said.

The next blood drive hosted by Student Senate and the Community Blood Center will be April 17-18. Even though it is held on campus, the drive is open to the public.

Civic Service Committee Chair Arpana Pokhrel said Student Senate uses several ways to promote the blood drive.

“We use social media, flyers, decorations, email and news releases to promote,” Pokhrel said.

The need for blood units comes sooner for various blood centers in Missouri.

When walking into the Community Blood Center in St. Joseph, there is a sign stating that there is a blood shortage. Another supplier, the American Red Cross, has issued an emergency shortage on its website.

According to the American Red Cross website, the flu has also contributed to prolonging the blood shortage.

Pamela Holmen, manager at the Community Blood Center in St. Joseph, said shortages are not unusual this time of year, but this one has been worse.

“This year we’ve been impacted by the weather more than normal,” Holmen said.

Despite the reports of a low blood supply, the St. Francis Hospital in Maryville, supplied by the Community Blood Center, has not had problems.

According to the lab director at the hospital, they have not experienced any issues with the blood shortage on their end.

The Community Blood Center webpage indicates that they need approximately 500 donors every weekday in order to supply nearly 60 hospitals.

This is to keep up with incidents ranging from car accidents, heart disease and cancer. One bone marrow transplant can take up to 120 platelets and 20 blood units.

Along with that, only 38 percent of the population is eligible to donate, according to the Red Cross webpage. Within that group, the percent of people that actually donate is even smaller.

According to Holmen, donating is easy to do. When planning ahead, it is important to eat and drink water before going.

“It’s a very simple process,” Holmen said. “The actual part with the needle takes less than 20 minutes.”

Even if blood drives are closed due to winter weather, the Community Blood Center keeps its sites open across Missouri. They each have a certain goal of blood units to reach that day despite the weather. They try to get 500 donors each weekday to stock their blood supply.

In order to replenish the shortage going on, the Blood Center will be hosting a blood drive from 3-7 p.m. Feb. 15 at the First Baptist Church of Maryville.

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