Record-breaking cold and winter storms forced the cancellation of hundreds of American Red Cross blood drives in about 30 states and caused more than 15,000 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected.

The Red Cross is urging healthy individuals, especially those with type O blood, to give now to ensure blood products are available for patient emergencies when help can’t wait.  

Every day, thousands of patients rely on lifesaving blood donations. The need for blood is constant, even during snowstorms and the COVID-19 pandemic. To help ensure lifesaving patient care isn’t impacted, individuals in areas unaffected by severe weather are urged to make appointments to donate by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on an Alexa Echo device. 

Tina Rocco knows firsthand how important it is to have blood on hospital shelves. After welcoming baby Gemma by cesarean section, she began hemorrhaging badly and was rushed back into the operating room. 

“I was later told it was several pints of blood and an amazing doctor that saved my life,” Rocco said. “That allowed me to hold my first daughter and go home all together as a family of three.” 

Before that day, Rocco hadn’t known anyone who needed blood transfusions. Now, this grateful mother says, “You truly never know when you, or someone you love, might need it.” 

Important COVID-19 information for donors 

The Red Cross is testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The test may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether an individual developed COVID-19 symptoms. 

Red Cross antibody tests are helpful to identify individuals who have COVID-19 antibodies and may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions. Convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation collected from COVID-19 survivors that have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus. 

The plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for high levels of COVID-19 antibodies may be used to help COVID-19 patients.  

COVID-19 antibody test results will be available within 1-2 weeks in the Red Cross Blood Donor App or donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org. A positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity. 

The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test. To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, it is important that individuals who do not feel well or believe they may be ill with COVID-19 postpone donation. 

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance. 

Upcoming blood donations, Feb. 22-March 15

Arthur County

Arthur

3/10: 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., Arthur High School, 111 Marshall St.

Chase County

Wauneta

3/15: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Wauneta Palisade High School, 214 W Wichita St.

Deuel County

Big Springs

3/2: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., South Platte High School (MT), 610 Plum St.

Dundy County

Benkelman

3/10: 12 p.m. – 6 p.m., 4-H Exhibit Building, 70495 Ave 338, Fairgrounds

Frontier County

Curtis

2/24: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., Curtis Community Bulding, 201 Garlick Ave.

Furnas County

Beaver City

3/8: 12:30 p.m. – 6 p.m., Community Building, 318 10th St.

Keith County

Ogallala

2/22: 12 p.m. – 6 p.m., Petrified Wood Gallery, 418 East 1st St.

3/18: 12 p.m. – 6 p.m., Ogallala Fair Building, 1100 West 3rd

Paxton

2/25: 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., Paxton High School, 308 Elm St.

Lincoln County

Hershey

3/2: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., American Legion Hall, 108 E. 2nd St.

North Platte

2/25: 12 p.m. – 6 p.m., Eagles Club, 620 N. Chestnut

Red Willow County (McCook)

2/23: 12:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m., McCook Community Building, 1412 West 5th

2/24: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., McCook Community Building, 1412 West 5th

3/1: 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m., Ed Thomas YMCA, 901 West E St.

3/8: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Cornerstone Fellowship, 402 West 5th.

About blood donation 

Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit  RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device to make an appointment or for more information. 

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood

High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.