American Red Cross reports blood shortage, looking for donors

Blood demand is higher in the winter and weather is impacting donations

FILE - In this Dec. 20, 2011 file photo, donors give blood at a drive attempting to set a record for most single-day donations in Rutland, Vt. Federal health officials are lifting the nation’s 32-year-old lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, but major restrictions will continue to limit who can donate.
(AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) –  The American Red Cross is facing a blood shortage and is looking to the public for help.

Christina Gargas, with the American Red Cross, reports that there were 1,900 fewer blood donations in November and December.

Blood demand is higher in the winter and weather is impacting donations. While more people get sick during winter, road conditions and frigid temperatures keep donors away. Some drives even have to close because of weather conditions.

“It’s a critical concern, and that is why we are reaching out to everyone – first time donors and regular donors if they can make it to a blood drive because you know patients don’t get a holiday break from illness,” Gargas said.

Anne Benner is a blood donor. She’s been doing it since she was 21 years old. On the day First News caught up with her, she had her feet kicked and was reading a magazine while she was giving blood. For her, donating blood is a way of helping someone she may never know.

“I encourage anybody that is able to come and give it a try at least once,” Benner said. “I give quite often when I am able. My iron isn’t quite high enough, so I can get refused. I usually give every two months or so.”

Gargas says the best thing a donor can do to prepare to give blood is to have a well-balanced meal before the blood draw and keep hydrated.

You have to be at least 17 years old and in good health to donate blood.


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