Recent winter weather forced the cancellation of some Michigan blood drives, thus impacting the region’s blood supply.
Biz Bauer, senior donor recruitment representative for the Great Lakes Region of the American Red Cross said while donations were up in December, January has so far been flat. And with fewer supplies on hand, along with the uncertainty of winter weather, that could create a domino effect.
“Locally, we didn’t have any cancellations — the storms just seemed to happen on days without drives in the Petoskey area. But we did have one in Mio last week that was canceled, and had seven in the region canceled,” Bauer said.
The Great Lakes Region of the American Red Cross covers 63 counties, the largest geographical area of any other region. The region requires 650 to 700 pints of blood a day.
Nationally, the American Red Cross needs to collect 22,000 units of blood each weekday and around 15,000 units each weekend to meet patient needs.
“Even if you have one or two blood drives canceled, that’s 70 pints of blood,” Bauer said. “That’s blood we can’t send to our hospitals. It just becomes a domino effect.”
Locally, while supplies are down, Bauer said no area hospitals have experienced shortages.
“Snow days really affect blood drives because they can be canceled, or people just aren’t showing up in the numbers we hope for,” she said. “Some may stay home with their kids, or people are calling into work and we just don’t have the number of donors.”
A number of blood drives are scheduled for the upcoming weeks, including Petoskey Middle School’s first blood drive on Tuesday, Jan. 31.
While donors need to be 16 years of age to give blood, Petoskey Middle School students are working as recruiters — asking their family members and friends to get involved.
Their goal is to have 75 donors, and the classroom that brings in the largest number of donors will receive a pizza party.
“These are our heroes in the making — these students are our recruiters,” Bauer said. “It’s a great way to introduce students to the act of donating blood and community service, so by the time they are in high school, they realize it’s not such a scary thing to do.”
The Red Cross is also asking donors to “have a heart” and donate blood during the month of February — American Heart Month. Patients with heart disease and other heart conditions often need blood products.
The American Red Cross is also encouraging more donors from younger generations to commit to building and maintaining the nation’s blood supply.
Currently, all blood types are needed, but type O is in high demand since it can be given to patients with other blood types such as A, B and AB.
Upcoming American Red Cross Blood Drives:
— 1-6:45 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Petoskey Middle School
— 8:30 a.m.-2:15 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, at Charlevoix High School
— noon-5:45 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, at the Petoskey Blood Donation Center
— noon-5:45 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6, at the Wolverine Community Center
— noon-5:45 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, at the East Jordan Civic Center
— noon-5:45 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, at Pellston High School
— noon-5:45 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, at Holy Childhood Parish Hall, Harbor Springs
— 1-6:45 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13, at Central Elementary School, Petoskey
— 10 a.m.-3:45 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, Petoskey Blood Donation Center
— 10 a.m.-3:45 p.m. Monday, Feb. 20, North Central Michigan College
— 11 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, Grandvue Medical Care Facility, East Jordan
— noon-5:45 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27, St. Matthew Catholic Church, Boyne City
— 8 a.m.-1:45 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 29, Petoskey High School
To schedule an appointment, or search for other blood drives, visit www.redcrossblood.org. There, you’ll also find a list of requirements for donors.