With the temperatures low and snow falling, the number of area blood donors is dropping as well, a result of blood drive cancellations and low turnout at drives that remain open.
The American Red Cross Greater Alleghenies blood services region, which spans 100 counties in six states, has experienced near-zero temperatures and snowfall in certain parts affecting blood drives in places such as southern Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland.
Between Thursday and Saturday, the region saw 11 blood drive cancellations. All week, the blood drives that remained open experienced low turnouts or early closures, due to inclement weather, said Marianne Spampinato, communications manager for the American Red Cross Greater Alleghenies blood services region.
The blood drives that were canceled, cut short, or under-performed resulted in a loss of roughly 600 potential blood donations, almost a day’s worth of collecting for the entire region. And that number could end up being even higher, Spampinato said.
The blood services region released a news release on Jan 24. explaining the shortage in donors, citing the inclement weather, and urging the public to donate once warmer weather comes.
On Penn State’s University Park campus, there is currently a joint effort between The American Red Cross student organization on campus and the Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, in which the American Red Cross donates four dollars to THON for every blood donation.
And, for that campaign, the weather has also affected the small number of blood drives completed.
Wendi Keeler, the donor recruitment representative for Penn State American Red Cross, said that while the blood campaign has just recently begun, it’s too early to tell if the weather will have a large impact.
But two of the four drives completed have seen low turnouts.
“My suspicion is that those two drives were affected by the weather,” Keeler said. “It was frigid on those days.”
Melissa Hubley, the president of Penn State American Red Cross, said weather is “definitely a deterrent,” especially during snow and rain.
“A lot of times, we will call donors who miss their appointment to remind them that they are scheduled, and they say they didn’t want to come out because of the weather,” she said.
Hubley (senior-microbiology) added that weather is not the only factor keeping people away, citing illness as another reason for low turnouts.
Spampinato also said illness can be a deterrent, but for those that are well, the weather is keeping them away, resulting in a “double whammy” to the blood services region.
The weather forecast for next week is warmer, and donors should make an extra effort to donate, Spampinato said.
“When the weather turns warmer, we need donors to come out in full force to try and make up for lost potential donors,” Spampinato said.
Today, drives will be held from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. at the Stuckeman Family Building and then from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Waring Commons in West Halls.
Starting on Tuesday, blood drives will be held at the HUB-Robeson Center from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. for the rest of the week. The drives will be in Alumni Hall Tuesday to Thursday, then Heritage Hall on Friday and the following Monday.
For a complete list of blood drives on campus or to sign up for a drive, visit www.psuredcross.org/blooddrives.php.