Winter weather causes blood shortages in Missouri

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COLUMBIA - The American Red Cross is struggling to meet its quota of blood donations in mid-Missouri.

The shortage is at "emergency" levels, said Craig Jackson, an account manager at the Red Cross.

"We like to operate with a five day blood supply on our shelves," Jackson said. "Right now, we are three days or under, so basically as fast as it's getting in and typed and tested, its going right back out the door."

The shortage is mainly due to weather-related school closings, which causes the American Red Cross to cancel many of its planned blood drives.

"About 20 percent of blood we collect comes from high school and college students," Jackson said. "When they are not in school, we have to remove those blood drives, we don't have an alternative usually to collect those units."

On Wednesday, the American Red Cross in Columbia didn't receive the 100 units of blood that the organization planned to collect locally, in part because of equipment malfunctions caused by cold weather.

The American Red Cross staff encouraged mid-Missourians to come out the rest of the week to donate to those in need.

"Blood donor recipients do not care about the weather," Jackson said. "They need the blood whether there's 13 inches of snow on the ground or whether its 13 below."

There are four more blood drives happening in Columbia this week, according to the Red Cross Blood Services.Dates and times for all blood drives can be found on the American Red Cross website.