Widespread Snow and Ice Disrupting Nation's Blood Supply

Severe winter storms bringing debilitating snow, ice and cold to much of the United States are causing widespread concern for the nation’s blood supply. Many blood centers have had to close their doors for multiple days due to power outages or weather conditions, resulting in a loss of more than 25,000 donations in February alone. In addition, transportation difficulties—including treacherous roads and closed airports—are further complicating the ability to transport life-saving blood to hospitals for patients in need.

These weather-related challenges come at a time when the nation’s blood supply was already strained. Some blood centers are now reporting critically low inventories, and blood collection organizations across the country are working together to help meet the need as best they can.

Eligible Individuals Who are Able to Donate Are Asked to Give Blood Now

Right now there is a particular need for Type O blood donations. Type O Negative Blood can be transfused to patients with any blood type and is what hospital staff reach for during emergencies when there isn’t time to determine a patient’s blood type. Type O Positive Blood is the most transfused blood type and is also critical in trauma situations.

Blood has a short shelf life and the supply must constantly be replenished. Blood donors are needed now and will continue to be needed to help ensure the adequacy of the blood supply.

Snow Storm Wrecks Havoc on Nation's Blood Supply

One Auburn Resident Has Helped Save Over 200 Lives

Laura Higdon of Auburn has donated enough blood to save multiple lives – 288 to be exact. Higdon, who works as an analyst at UW Medicine, has donated 12 gallons of blood with Cascade Regional Blood Services.

Blood Supply Critically Low

The COVID-19 pandemic has lead to a decrease in blood donations. These donations help supply blood to local hospitals and clinics. Cascade Regional Blood Services’ director of communications, marketing, and community relations Candy Morrison said blood centers need donations from younger donors.

“A lot of blood donors are older and they aren’t wanting to leave their homes right now. So we are not seeing our regular huge donor base as much, during this pandemic.”  

Additionally, Cascade Regional Blood Services receives about 30 percent of blood from schools, which are currently closed due to COVID-19. 

Essential Blood Donor, Laura Higdon | photo from Laura Higdon

There Is No Substitute For Blood

Continuous donors like Higdon are helping blood centers remain operational. Higdon feels it’s her duty to donate when she can at the Federal Way blood center. She donates at least every 56 days, the amount of time required to wait in between blood donations.

Higdon was first introduced to donating when she worked at a YMCA in high school. A supervisor invited Higdon to donate blood with her, and Higdon has donated since. Despite her initial fear of needles, she felt motivated to donate knowing her blood could potentially help others. The previous summer, Higdon worked as a camp counselor where a camper’s younger sister had blood cancer. “I thought, well if that little girl can have needles poked into her, I guess I can do this to help somebody like her,” Higdon said.

CRBS’ Rapid Response to COVID-19

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The demand for blood in research is high. Progress is often delayed due to lack of matches to participate. That’s why Cascade Regional Blood Services has created bResearch, a division devoted solely to matching your blood donations to life science research needs worldwide. Through bResearch, we partner with medical science professionals to help advance the research and development to cure disease.

Automated Blood Donations

During automated donation, donors can give a specific component in greater quantities than can be collected in a whole blood donation. Blood is processed in a cell separator machine; the needed products are collected, and the remaining blood is returned to the donor. The automated collection system takes combinations of platelets, plasma, and red blood cells depending on your blood type. Automated donation allows CRBS to efficiently manage the blood supply by collecting the optimal products needed by our community hospitals – helping cancer, trauma, and transplant patients.

Host a Blood Drive

About 60 percent of the community’s blood supply is collected at community blood drives, hosted by community members like you.