ST. PAUL, Minn. - A 'perfect storm' of sorts has put a major crimp in the blood supply, both across the country and right here in Minnesota.

The American Red Cross on Monday expressed an urgent need for blood and platelet donors of all blood types to donate to help erase a significant winter blood shortage. Severe winter weather has had a major impact, with more than 150 blood drives nationwide forced to cancel due to severe cold and snow. The cancelations resulted in over 5,500 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected. This is in addition to the annual lull in donations due to busy holiday schedules, and a significant outbreak of the flu which prevents donors from coming in.

"The need is constant, and hospital patients don't get a vacation from blood transfusions, " explained Red Cross Communications Manager Sue Thesenga. She says during November and December the Red Cross was short 28,000 donors from normal levels.

While all blood types are urgently needed, there is a more critical need for the following blood and donation types right now:

  • Platelets: The clotting portion of blood primarily given to cancer patients during treatment and always in great demand.
  • Type O negative: The blood type that can be transfused to almost everyone and is what doctors reach for in trauma situations.
  • Type B negative: The blood type that can be transfused to type B Rh-positive and negative patients.
  • Type AB: The plasma type that can be transfused to almost everyone and can be donated through a platelet or plasma donation, where available, or during a regular blood donation.

Thesenga tells KARE 11 that while 38 percent of Americans are eligible to donate, just 10 percent do. She says blood is a perishable product, and you can donate every 56 days.

Eligible donors can find a blood or platelet donation opportunity and schedule an appointment to donate by using the free Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

The blood drive mentioned in the video above is taking place Jan. 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Parkdale Plaza Training room, 1660 Highway 100 South, St. Louis Park (the West End). Those interested can sign up at RedCrossBlood.org and enter sponsor code: Finn.