The colder weather, ice and snow storms throughout Georgia have caused more than electrical outages and downed power lines – it's caused a shortage of blood.
Officials from The American Red Cross have called for all eligible blood and platelet donors to help offset a weather-related shortfall in donations.
Since early January, winter storms and freezing temperatures have resulted in more than 600 Red Cross blood drives being cancelled. This means a shortage of nearly 20,000 blood and platelet donations. In Georgia, severe weather caused the cancellation of 51 blood drives, which translates into around 2,175 fewer donations.
Leana Thomas, with the Albany Red Cross Donor Center, says nearly 280 blood drives in 25 states were cancelled due to bad weather. She said this resulted in a shortfall of nearly 8,400 blood and platelet donations throughout those areas.
On Tuesday, the Albany center conducted its monthly blood drive at Tifton First United Methodist Church, sponsored this month by the Tift County Sheriff's Office.
Kristen Stancil, program manager for communications for the Southern Blood Services Region in Douglasville, said the Red Cross is in need of all blood types, but particularly O negative, O positive, B negative and A negative.
Shay Register, donor coordinator for this area, said the drive at the Methodist church is held on the third Tuesday of each month, from noon to 6 p.m. An average of 42 pints are normally collected, which is down from the past year, but Register noted the number is climbing.
Register said donations in Southwest Georgia were affected during Winter Storm Leon and that statewide, “we lost about 7,000 units” that week.
Donations of platelets must be transfused within five days of donation, so donations are constantly needed, according to a Red Cross press release. Platelets are a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients.
To donate blood, you can call the Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS. A blood donor card or driver's license, or two other forms of identification are needed at check-in. Individuals who are at least 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to give blood.
If you or your organization are interested in sponsoring the FUMC blood drive, you may call Register at 229-449-2677.
To contact editor Angye Morrison, call 382-4321.