WILKES-BARRE — Disruptive January weather forced the American Red Cross to cancel nearly 770 blood drives nationwide — including some in the Wyoming Valley — to the detriment of blood supplies.
Colin Riccobon, the Red Cross Northeastern Pennsylvania Blood Services Region communications manager, called the losses incurred significant.
“Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. That’s not going to change because winter weather is in town,” he said. “Blood products are being distributed to hospitals almost as quickly as they’re coming in.”
The King’s College Blood Council, together with the Red Cross, coordinates blood drives at the college. The council is aware of the shortage and held its latest drive Wednesday. Another drive is scheduled 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today in the campus center.
Council founder and Biology Lab Director Valerie Musto said collection events typically have a goal of between 100 and 120 donors, adding a single donation can help as many as three separate patients.
“If you have a goal of 100, you’ve potentially saved or made better up to 300 lives,” she said.
King’s students Andrea Grammatico and Amanda Demczyszyn, who are studying to become physicians assistants, both donated blood for the first time Wednesday.
Demczyszyn said her blood’s low iron content has prevented her from donating in the past, “so it’s pretty exciting.”
“I’m just glad I didn’t pass out,” she added, laughing.
Both students said they were eager to donate again, and they will be volunteering their time to register donors today.
“It’s amazing,” said Grammatico. “It takes all of 20-30 minutes, and the fact that you can save three lives is pretty incredible.”
Jenna Schoen, a neuroscience major at King’s, was checking-in donors on Wednesday.
She said she tries to donate every eight weeks, the minimum wait time required between donations. She donates following an example set by her father who, according to Schoen, has donated over 10 gallons of blood in his life.
The Geisinger Blood Center, which only distributes donations locally, had two blood drives scheduled for Wednesday, but director Mike Quint said both were canceled because of the storm.
“All blood centers are affected by winter weather,” he said.
The Red Cross’ Riccobon agreed. Illness and weather cancellations can even deter those who donate on a regular basis, he said. “And no one can predict that.”
Riccobon also stressed a proactive approach toward donating blood, as the need is constant and can affect anyone.
“You never know when it’s going to be a friend, a coworker or even yourself,” he said.
For more information on blood drives in the area or to schedule an appointment to donate, visit www.redcrossblood.org or www.geisingerbloodcenter.org.