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Winter storms create a greater need for blood donations

After winter storms swept across the nation, including parts of Virginia, the American Red Cross needs blood donations.

In Virginia alone, at the end of the week of Feb. 15,  when winter storms were slamming the country, the American Red Cross lost 300 units of blood due to canceled blood drives.

“Typically, nationally every February, we plan to lose 4% to 5% of donations due to winter weather,” said Kristopher Dumschat, regional communications manager for American Red Cross. “At this point, our donation loss has doubled due to the severe snow and ice. We are at about a 9% to 10% loss.”

The American Red Cross is asking healthy individuals not impacted by the storms or who can now after these storms have passed donate in the upcoming weeks to help save lives.

There is also a need for plasma as well as blood. Plasma is often used to help with diseases and infections as it carries antibodies. Blood donations are usually separated into plasma, platelets and red blood cells to help with various ailments. Each blood donation is tested for COVID-19 antibodies. The plasma of those found with the antibodies goes to those fighting the virus.

“We’re looking for people who are eligible to donate so we can provide to patients who are seriously ill,” said Dumschat.

The American Red Cross has worked closely with the CDC and FDA to have the plasma they need. Over 150,000 nationwide have given plasma to save lives.

The primary type of blood needed is type O, as it can be used for any blood type. According to Dumschat, having O- blood, he donates as much as he can. He saw firsthand the need for blood donations, as his stepfather received many blood transfusions after his heart surgery. No matter the blood type, donations are needed to help those in demand due to a traumatic incident or surgery.

“I advocate to the community, not because it’s my job but because I am passionate about it after seeing firsthand how it can save lives,” said Dumschat. Now that so many drives have been canceled, we need people to step up and donate.”

Two opportunities to donate are coming to Suffolk in the first part of March: from 1 to 7 p.m. on March 1, at HUB 757 Home of Believers Church, 6801 Bridgeway Drive; and from 2 to 6 p.m. on March 15, at Suffolk Elks Lodge 685, 329 W. Constance Road.

To set up an appointment, download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.