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Red Cross: blood supply running low

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Three blood collection drives are planned in the Twin Counties during February, as the American Red Cross experiences mounting effects of severe winter weather that caused the lowest January blood supply in a decade.
Severe weather throughout much of the eastern half of the U.S. has caused cancellation of more than 14,000 blood and platelet donations through the American Red Cross, including more than 600 in the Appalachian region.
The severity has stressed even the Red Cross’ robust national inventory management system, which can move blood products to where they’re needed most, such as when severe weather hits.
“We have not seen the January supply drop this dramatically in a decade and we need to reverse this now,” said Bob Eaton, chief executive officer of the Appalachian Region. “You don’t wait to refuel once you’ve run out of gas. Donating blood or platelets now helps ensure immediate and future patient needs will be met.”
The Red Cross urges eligible donors in unaffected areas to give blood or platelets in the coming days. Donations will help replenish the Red Cross blood supply to ensure that blood products are readily available for patients with serious medical needs.
Upcoming blood drives in the Carroll/Grayson area:
• Feb. 5, First United Methodist Church of Hillsville, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
• Feb. 24, Epworth Methodist Church, Cana, 1-6 p.m.
• Feb. 25, Galax Elks Lodge, 1-6 p.m.
The Red Cross says the need for blood is constant. Every two seconds a patient in the U.S. needs a blood transfusion. Blood is perishable and has no substitute.
Red blood cells have a shelf life of only 42 days and platelets just 5 days. They must be replenished constantly.
Blood and platelets can be used for trauma victims — those who suffered due to accidents and burns — heart surgery patients, organ transplant recipients, premature babies and for patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or other diseases, such as sickle cell disease.
All blood types are needed, especially type O negative, to ensure a reliable supply for patients.
Eligible donors must be age 17 (or 16 with parental permission in Virginia), weigh at least 110 pounds and be in generally good health. High school students and donors age 18 and younger must meet height and weight requirements. Bring Red Cross blood donor card or other form of ID.