Red Cross says blood supply has dropped, donors badly needed

DES MOINES — Due to the extreme cold and other factors, the American Red Cross is issuing an emergency call for blood donors in Iowa.

Samantha Pollard, spokeswoman for the agency’s Midwest Blood Services Region, says they have less than a three-day supply of most blood types. A five-day supply is ideal for stocking hospitals for emergencies and daily needs but that’s fallen off over the past month. “We’ve seen a lot of winter storms and a lot of flu has been spreading around, taking people out of eligibility to donate blood,” Pollard says. “That, paired with people traveling over the holidays, really put us in a bad spot.”

Pollard suggests Iowans who are scheduled to give blood should stay home if they don’t feel well. “We have a lot of people call in the day of their donation to say they’re not going to make it because they’re sick and they have the flu,” Pollard says. “That’s good. We don’t want people to come in if they’re sick, please don’t. We also want remind people, if they’ve gotten a flu shot, that does not make you ineligible to donate. As long as you’re symptom-free, please come in and donate.”

Pollard says blood products are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in. She encourages people to participate in blood drives to help re-stock the supply. Pollard says the easiest way to find a blood drive is through the website: “On the home page, just put in your ZIP code and it’ll pull up all the drives near you,” Pollard says. “Another way is calling us at 800-Red-Cross and someone will help you find a drive. We also have an app. Download our blood donor app by searching for Red Cross Blood Donor and the app is really cool. You can make your appointment in there and it reminds you of when your appointment is.”

Pollard says with two months of winter still ahead, severe cold weather may cancel more blood drives, resulting in an elevated threat to an already-low blood supply.