January 29, 2013
(USA TODAY) -- As flu and frigid weather force people across the USA to stay bundled up inside, blood banks report donors are canceling appointments and supplies are dropping.
"The American Red Cross is seeing a lower-than-expected turnout," says Stephanie Millian, director of biomedical communications at the American Red Cross. "We've even had seven blood drives canceled because of the weather in the Great Lakes area. "
Although none of the agencies responsible for collecting blood is reporting a shortage, they are experiencing low levels in several types of blood.
About one in seven people entering a hospital will require transfusions, says America's Blood Centers.
The greatest need is for O-negative blood, a type often called for in emergencies because it's a type any patient can use, Millian says. Only 7% of people are O-negative.
"We like to keep a five- to seven-day supply of all blood types on hand, and we're under a three-day supply now," says Jim Fox of the New York Blood Center.
"When it's as cold outside as it's been here, most people like to stay indoors," Fox says. "But people with leukemia and other cancers don't have that option."
Mother Nature might help out soon. A warming trend is expected for a few days across parts of the USA. The flu is reported in all 50 states but is leveling off in many, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday. But some parts of the country, especially the Southwest and Northwest, are showing increases.
In Arizona, parts of Texas and the Northwest, United Blood Services is seeing a drop in donations and a rise in demand.
Demand is above normal, says Sue Thew, spokeswoman for United Blood Services in Arizona, because hospitals delay many elective surgeries until after the holiday season.
Copyright 2013 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.