By Aimee Lewis Strain, Bay City News Service
A seasonal drop in blood donations has produced a shortage of O-positive blood at the Stanford Blood Center and a nationwide shortage of platelets and types O, A-negative and B-negative due to the recent storms in the Midwest and East Coast.
According to Deanna Bolio, center spokeswoman, winter is an especially difficult time to maintain adequate supplies of blood because many blood donors are busy with the holidays, traveling or sick with a cold or flu.
She said that from Dec. 30 through Sunday, collections at the blood center were about half the usual amount. The blood center is holding a two-day supply of O-positive, which she hopes to amp up to a safe five-day supply.
Bay Area residents with type O-positive blood are being asked to come to one of the Stanford Blood Centers or visit a mobile blood drive to boost the current inventory.
But it's not just Stanford that's feeling the pinch. Across the nation, the recent cold snap caused many routine donors to stay home, leaving the blood donation centers with an inconsistent flow of platelet donors and blood donors with types O, A-negative and B-negative, according to Jared Schultzman, communications manager at the Red Cross Northern California Blood Services Region.
The Red Cross estimates that approximately 280 blood drives across 25 states were canceled due to snow and extreme cold. The blood drive cancellations resulted in a shortfall of nearly 8,400 blood and platelet donations since Jan. 2, the Red Cross reported.
According to Schultzman, residents in the Bay Area can help boost donations immediately to offset the nation's shortfall. In an effort to increase supplies, donation centers throughout the Bay Area are holding extra donation drives this weekend beginning Friday through Wednesday. For a complete list of these centers, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org.
From Jan. 10 through Jan. 20, five Bay Area blood donation centers will extend their hours of operation by a half hour -- opening 30 minutes early on Tuesday through Thursday and staying open an additional 30 minutes on Friday through Monday.
The locations for extended hours are the Oakland Blood Donation Center, 6230 Claremont Ave., Pleasant Hill Blood Donation Center, 140 Gregory Lane, Pleasanton Blood Donation Center, 5556-B Springdale Ave., Newark Blood Donation Center, 39227 Cedar Blvd., San Jose Blood Donation Center, 2731 N. First St.
In order to give blood, donors must be in good health with no cold or flu symptoms. They must eat well prior to donation, drink fluids and present a photo identification at the time of donation. The process takes about an hour.