NEAR WEST SIDE — Recent severe weather has caused a blood shortage nationwide, and some Near West Side hospitals are struggling to maintain their supply, the American Red Cross and hospital officials said.
"Since the beginning of January, winter storms and freezing temperatures have resulted in more than 600 American Red Cross blood drive cancelations and nearly 20,000 uncollected blood and platelet donations," the American Red Cross said on its website. "Overall, 26 states and Washington, D.C. have had blood drives canceled because of weather."
Rush University Medical Center spokeswoman Nancy Di Fiore said the shortage has impacted their supply.
"There has been a shortage because of the weather, definitely, yes," Di Fiore said.
At Rush's blood center, manager Yolanda Garcia said her department has had difficulty keeping the fridges in Rush's intensive care sectors — like emergency and surgery — consistently filled with blood.
"We've been having a hard time getting enough blood to stock those fridges. We've also had issues stocking our own inventory," Garcia said. If things don't get better, Garcia said the lack of blood could ultimately affect patients' surgery schedules and those patients who receive blood transfusions would potentially have to be prescribed alternative treatment.
There is a high demand for blood types O positive, O negative, A negative and B negative; eligible donors with these blood types are strongly encouraged to donate blood in the coming days, according to the American Red Cross' website. The site states there is also an urgent need for donations of platelets — a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients.
For more information about donating blood, or to make an appointment to donate blood or platelets, please visit redcrossblood.org or call (800) RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).