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Winter conditions force blood drive closures across 30 states

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The American Red Cross on Wednesday urged those in the few areas spared by serious wintry conditions to donate blood amid sweeping cancellations.

“Record-breaking cold and severe winter weather across most of the U.S. has forced the cancellation of American Red Cross blood drives in approximately 30 states — impacting approximately 16,000 blood, platelet and convalescent plasma donations this month,” Jessa Merrill, spokesperson for the American Red Cross, said in an emailed statement.

“The Red Cross is urging healthy individuals in unaffected areas, especially those with type O blood, to give now.”  

The Red Cross tied the forced closures to dangerous road conditions and harsh temperatures. The organization said blood donations offer relief to patients who have undergone surgeries, transplants, had accidents, burns, those fighting cancer and people battling the novel coronavirus. 

More specifically, convalescent plasma is given to coronavirus patients in an effort to boost their immune response — antibodies in the plasma from a coronavirus survivor are infused into a patient still fighting the disease.

According to America’s Blood Centers, a national organization for independent blood centers, 17 of its 59 centers have a “critically low” one-day supply of blood or less, and 12 community centers have a one-to-two-day supply.

“It’s the blood that’s already on the shelf that helps patients in need,” Paul Sullivan, senior vice president of Donor Services at the Red Cross, said in a previous release. “That’s why it’s important for people to donate regularly, so we are prepared for when severe weather does arrive. That is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic when we are also struggling with other challenges.”

The Red Cross is incentivizing donations with a $5 Amazon gift card until Feb. 28. Click here for more information. 

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