Red Cross blood donation shortfall linked to winter weather

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- The American Red Cross is in need of blood and platelet donations. Severe winter weather from December to February has caused a large number of blood drives to be canceled throughout the state which amounts to a loss of over 1,500 blood and platelet donations.

The need is constant and right now the demand is high. Blood donations help millions of patients in need and for one donor it took hearing of a sick little girl to make him come in and donate for the first time.

"It really touched me so I want to help this little girl out," said Will Simpson, a first time donor.

Simpson said seeing a Facebook post about a Russellville girl in need of a blood donation was all the motivation he needed.

"I knew if my children needed it I would want someone to help them," he said. "I have one of the rarest blood types on the planet and I heard she needs it."

And this little girl is not alone there are millions of patients who rely solely on donations.

"As I got to looking at the story it talked about the shortages all over, and we don't think about that until it happens to us," Simpson said. "I just think it's important, we need to think about it, it's a family and we're all family on this earth."

Severe winter has caused a national blood shortage. In Arkansas, 1,015 donations went uncollected in December. In January 61 donation were not collected and in February 24 drives have been canceled which resulted in 582 donations not collected.

"Especially with the winter months and all the increment weather we have seen with the ice and the snow, we are drastically low," said Kathy Barber who works at the Blood Donation Center in Jonesboro. "We need to get it back up at least a little bit to help supply the hospitals and to help the patients."

Barber said so many people in hospitals depend on these donations. And for this reason they have extended their hours this month.

"There are a lot of people that's in the hospital or that's going through chemo that is needing blood transfusion, platelets transfusions, it goes to a lot of patients who are sick," she said.

Simpson said he will be back to make more donations.

"If our children or our parents, if it happens to them, what do we do you know, if you don't have that type of blood it's a shortage," he said.

The next blood drive will be on Tuesday and Wednesday at Arkansas State University in the Spring River Room from 11 a.m.  to 7 p.m. This event is open to the public.

Copyright 2014 KAIT. All rights reserved.