"Right now, blood donations are being distributed to hospitals as fast as they come in", said Natividad Lewis, a Portland-based spokeswoman for the Red Cross. Their shelf life is very short - only five days - while whole blood or red cell donations can last 42 days.
In North Carolina alone, 23 blood drives were cancelled or closed early due to last week's winter storm, with almost 600 uncollected donations. Then if you want to consider the months of November and December leading up to January we saw 28,000 fewer blood donations.
"Even temporary disruptions to blood and platelet donations can diminish the availability for hospital patients", said Christy Peters, external communications manager of the local Red Cross Blood Services Region.
The Red Cross must collect more than 13,000 donations every day for patients at about 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide. They can register using a free Blood Donor app available from redcrossblood.org, on the website itself or by calling 800-733-2767.
If the current trend of bad weather continues without more blood donors coming in, Michigan Blood's inventory could drop to critical levels.
Individuals who are as young as 16 years of age (with parental consent), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in general good health may be eligible to donate blood. By giving platelets regularly, donors can help patients kick cancer and recover from other life-threatening illnesses and injuries. O-negative, the universal blood type that's always in high demand, can be given to patients of any blood type.