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Donors needed to help Red Cross replenish local blood supply

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Wintry weather has done more than alter local school schedules and event calendars.

It also has impacted an element of life itself — the area blood supply.

Leaders with the Columbus-based office of the American Red Cross said that because of blood drive cancellations, they have an urgent need for blood, especially O negative. Types O positive, A negative and B negative blood also are needed.

“The response from people is usually pretty good (when we ask for help),” said Mary Ellen Anable, Red Cross executive director. “And we always ask people to think about an appointment (rather than walking in).”

One pint of blood can save as many as three lives, according to Red Cross statistics.

Lindsey English, communications manager for the American Red Cross Blood Services that governs 68 counties in Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana, including this area, said supply wasn’t a significant issue during mild winters the past two years.

“But people tend not to donate as regularly this time of year, especially just coming off the holidays,” English said. “And then you throw in severe winter weather, and you have the additional issue of even the safety of our employees going out to collect. And donors frequently aren’t able to get to the blood drive sites, and that results in cancellations.”

Seventeen drives in that three-state region have been canceled this month, among 450 nationwide, English said. That represents a loss of an estimated 14,000 blood or platelet donations nationally, she said.

“It’s the blood already on shelves that’s going to save your life,” English said. “It’s got to be ready to go.”

The Indiana Blood Center, which includes a Columbus office on National Road and seven other offices elsewhere in the state, saw some office closings and drive cancellations in early January, said Lucy Wehking, corporate communications specialist. The center provides blood to more than 60 hospitals statewide.

“But we have been fortunate enough to have loyal donors come in and restock our supply,” Wehking said. “So, as of now, Indiana Blood Center’s supply is stable. However, looking forward, our need is constant.”

Columbus Regional Hospital spokeswoman Delilah Newton said the hospital’s blood supply is good and there has been no shortage. Its supply comes from Indiana Blood Center.

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