American Red Cross pushes for blood drives after snowstorm causes deficit


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As Nashville begins to recuperate from a five-day snow, health officials are now working to replenish a loss in blood donations.

“A lot of people think the snow affects just our six sites, but actually it affects the blood drives that we have throughout the region,” said Sherri McKinney, Regional Director of Communications for the American Red Cross Tennessee Region. “In fact, it affected us so much we had 79 blood drives.”

The organization lost 1,780 units of blood in a matter of five days.

“When we say we’ve lost 1,780 units, that’s 1,780 people that could be affected without having blood on the shelves. And blood just like milk has a shelf life,” said McKinney.

With more than 1,000 people across the state of Tennessee hospitalized with COVID-19, plus the impact of severe weather conditions, routine surgeries, and procedures, the American Red Cross says they are in dire need of blood donations.

“I can only speak personally,” said McKinney. “My personal story is: I have a husband who went through heart surgery. This was back in 2014. And he’s a relatively healthy guy, but when he went through heart surgery, he had to have eight units of blood. Eight units of blood is pretty much half of a really decent blood drive.”

Now, the organization is pushing for more blood drives to be planned this week in hopes of making up for the donations lost.

“What you’re doing is not only giving life to that patient, but you’re giving memories to a family — you’re giving a child back to its mother, you’re giving a wife the chance to enjoy memories with her husband,” said McKinney.

Blood donation is also vital in treating those with COVID-19. McKinney says often times people donate and do not realize they have COVID antibodies. Their blood can then be used as a plasma donation for a patient suffering from the virus.

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