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Harsh Weather Leaves Blood In Short Supply Across Pacific Northwest

Brian Bull

Recent extreme weather and other factors have caused a blood shortage across the Pacific Northwest.  As KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, demand for donors is high.

Heavy snow and ice hit much of the region this winter, which disrupted operations for organizations like the American Red Cross.

“From February through March, 58 Red Cross blood drives in the Pacific Northwest area were cancelled due to severe weather," says Red Cross spokeswoman Christine Welch.  The cancellations mean  about 1400 uncollected units of whole blood.

And Annette Casper, Oregon Regional Director for Bloodworks Northwest, says blood drives around Eugene-Springfield were especially hurt in that same period.

Credit SparkFun Electronics / Flickr.com

“We have two buses that couldn’t make it up the hill," she tells KLCC.  "So we ended up canceling a lot of our mobile drives. And with the high schools being closed and our inability to get out, it’s definitely had an impact.”

Spring break and recent flooding have also affected blood donations.  Both Welch and Casper say all blood types are needed, with Type “O” being the most crucial for hospitals. Bloodworks Northwest says it needs to collect 900 units of blood each day to keep up with demand from the 100 hospitals it serves from Lane County to southeastern Alaska.

The Red Cross says nationwide, more than 20,000 blood and platelet donations have gone uncollected since February due to snowstorms and other severe weather.

Both the Red Cross and Bloodworks have apps as well as phone numbers and websites for those wishing to schedule a donation, or to look at upcoming drives in their area.

Copyright 2019, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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