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Winter Vortex adds to Red Cross blood emergency

WICHITA — The American Red Cross is reissuing its emergency call for blood donors to give now after multiple snowstorms, frigid temperatures and the government shutdown has further reduced lifesaving donations.

In January, more than 4,600 Red Cross blood donations went uncollected as blood drives were forced to cancel due to severe winter weather blanketing parts of the U.S., and additional cancellations are expected this week. Weather travel advisories may cause even more donors to delay their planned donations.

The drive held Monday at the St. Rose Auditorium came ahead of the Winter Vortex. It was actually a nice day but the drive did fall a few units short of the goal of around 80 units, according to Cory Herrman, blood drive chairman for Great Bend. Attendance is typically lower in winter months, she added.

“If you can get out there, please go,” Herrman said of local blood drives. Individuals must wait at least 56 days between donations.

Barton Community College will host a blood drive on Friday, Feb. 1, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Case New Holland training area in the Technical Building, room T-186.

Student Health Nurse Kathleen Brock coordinates the blood drives at the college. Usually their goal is around 35 units of blood, she said. “The largest percentage of donors comes from the college, whether it be students or faculty/staff, but we generally average two or three donors from the community,” she said.  

Shutdown affected donations

Nationwide, the federal government shutdown also affected the past month’s donations as more than 4 percent of Red Cross blood collections come from drives sponsored by military and local, state and federal government agencies. About 30 blood drives hosted by federal offices were canceled across the country due to the shutdown, leaving more than 900 donations uncollected.

“Disruptions to blood and platelet donations jeopardize the availability of blood for patients who depend on transfusions for survival,” said Cliff Numark, senior vice president, Red Cross Biomedical Services. “We’re grateful for all those who have come out to give since we issued our emergency call earlier this month and now urge others to come out and give to prevent delays in essential medical care.”

Right now, Red Cross blood donations are being distributed to hospitals faster than they are coming in, and there is less than a three-day supply of most blood types on hand. The Red Cross strives to maintain a five-day supply of blood to meet the needs of patients and to be prepared for emergencies that require significant volumes of donated blood products.

All eligible donors, especially blood donors with type O blood, are urgently needed to help restock the shelves for hospital patients.

Donation appointments can be easily scheduled by using the free Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Upcoming blood drives

Claflin - Feb. 25 - 12:30-6:30 p.m., Claflin Community Center, 409 A St.

Ellinwood - Feb. 4 - 12:30-6:30 p.m., St Joseph’s Parish Center, 110 W. 2nd St.

Great Bend - Feb. 1 - 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., Barton County Community room T-186, 245 N.E. 30 Road

- Feb. 5 - 11:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., Prince of Peace Parish Center, 4124 Broadway

- Feb. 14 - 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., CUNA Mutual Retirement Solutions, 1809 24th St.

- Feb. 15 - 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., American Legion, 1011 Kansas Avenue.

Hoisington - Feb. 18 - 12:30-6:30 p.m., Hoisington Activity Center, 1200 Susank Road

Ness City - Feb. 19 - noon - 5:30 p.m., Ness County Fair Building, 302 W Nevada

- Feb. 21 - 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., Ness County Hospital, 312 E Custer

Larned - Feb. 7 - 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., Larned High School, 815 Corse

- Feb. 15 - noon - 6 p.m., J.A. Haas Building, 400 E. 18th

La Crosse - Feb. 15 - noon - 6 p.m., LaCrosse City Auditorium, 417 Main St.

Stafford - Feb. 19 - 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Stafford High School, 430 E. Broadway

How to donate blood 

To schedule a donation, simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) 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, 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.

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at or use the Blood Donor App.