Red Cross officials announced Jan. 29 the continuous snow showers and perilous driving conditions may threaten the blood supply, leaving patients in a potentially dangerous situation. The commitment of volunteer blood donors wavers, they say, when weather conditions are poor. However, this is the time of the year that blood is needed most due to increased road accidents. One accident alone can require anywhere from 4 to 20 units of red blood cells.

The day of Jan. 29 started with a back order of O Negative blood, remaining in a "Transfuse Only" directive. Type O Positive continues on a "Minimum Need" directive, meaning it can only fulfill minimal amounts presently being requested. Blood supplies are also below minimum inventory standards on types A Positive, A Negative, B Negative and AB Negative.

Another concern potentially affecting the Northern Ohio Region's blood supply is that portions of the Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region of the American Red Cross, headquartered in Johnstown, Pa., went on strike. "The strength of the American Red Cross is in the network of its 35 Blood Services Regions, and therefore the Greater Alleghenies Region continues to meet the needs of patients in its area. However the Northern Ohio Blood Services Region remains in a blood emergency and is struggling as local blood supplies diminish. Our top priority is to fulfill the needs of patients in 57 local hospitals throughout 19 northern Ohio counties," stated Victoria Rothacker, senior communications specialist of the Northern Ohio Blood Services Region.

The Red Cross is requesting all who are eligible, to please donate blood as soon as possible. To donate blood you must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, be in general good health and provide a valid photo ID upon donation. You may safely give blood every 56 days.

For more information or to find a blood or platelet donation site near you, call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE 1-800-448-3543 or visit RedCrossDonor.org.