By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
— The winter weather this week and earlier in January has taken a toll on blood and platelet donations to the American Red Cross.
The group had to cancel 18 blood drives because of snow, ice and frigid temperatures, which resulted in 624 fewer blood and platelet donations throughout January.
While stocks of blood products have not reached critical levels just yet, the shortfall has reached the point for Red Cross officials to ask for help.
The organization is in particular need of platelets, a clotting component of blood that’s frequently needed for cancer patients. Platelets must be used within five days of donation. Similarly, red blood cells are needed for transfusions, and have to be used no more than 42 days after donation.
The Red Cross also needs blood in A negative, B negative, O negative and O positive.
To donate blood, call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or go online to redcrossblood.org to make an appointment. Anyone aged 17 and older weighing more than 110 pounds and generally in good health may donate; those 18 and under have certain height and weight requirements as well.