The American Red Cross is sending out an SOS for blood donors.

Officials say the ongoing severe weather has forced the cancellation of many blood drives, resulting in a shortfall of donations. The Red Cross now considers the situation critical and is issuing an urgent call for blood and platelet donors.

According to the Red Cross, more than 550 blood drives were canceled due to winter weather in January, causing over 16,500 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected through last week. In addition, bitter cold and widespread flu have contributed to very low turnout at many blood drives.

Officials say blood and platelet donations are currently being distributed to hospitals faster than they are coming in and donors are critically needed to restock the shelves for patients in their communities, as well as other areas where donors were unable to give due to inclement weather.

Many people rely on blood and platelet donations to survive. None of us knows when our own life or a family member’s life may depend on blood or platelets following an accident, car crash or illness.

So what can you do? Make an appointment to give blood or platelets. Check this newspaper for listings of local blood drives. The Red Cross also has a free Blood Donor App people can download or visit If you are unable to donate, then offer to drive someone who can to the nearest blood drive.