“January is a tough time to give blood, because it’s cold and flu season,” said Linda Hisey, executive director of public relations for Blood Assurance, the sole supplier of blood and blood products for Cartersville Medical Center. “The weather’s not always cooperating and unfortunately Blood Assurance has experienced a lot of cancellations of school drives because of the weather that we’ve had recently — the snow and the extreme, bitter cold weather.
“So we know that people who would normally come in to donate this time of the year are out sick and they’re not able to donate. So we’re asking the public if you’ve never donated before to please consider making a donation now.”
Eligible donors can contribute blood at Blood Assurance’s Cartersville location — 921 B Joe Frank Harris Parkway — Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. No appointments are necessary. Generally, most individuals 17 and older — 16 with parental consent — who weigh at least 110 pounds, can donate blood every 56 days.
Like Blood Assurance, American Red Cross also saw its blood donations decrease due to the recent inclement weather. Overall, winter precipitation and frigid temperatures have led to blood drives being halted in 26 states and Washington, D.C. The cancellations have resulted in nearly 20,000 uncollected blood and platelet contributions.
“On Tuesday, when the weather started, we had to cancel a lot of our blood drives,” said Kristen Stancil — communications program manager for American Red Cross’ Southern Blood Services Region — on Thursday. “So basically that’s when we started to see the impact [was] Tuesday morning, Tuesday afternoon, [when] blood drives were being canceled. Then [Wednesday] all of our blood drives were canceled across the entire state. Today, we have resumed all of our blood drives at our blood donation centers. Then starting tomorrow is when we should be able to pick back up with some of the community blood drives as well as getting our donor centers back to their regular hours.
“... It’s always important for people to donate blood, especially during the winter months. People get sick, they have the flu. ... And if you’re not healthy, you’re not able to donate. Then because of winter weather, people sometimes get stuck at home, they can’t get out [and] sometimes we have to cancel blood drives. So it’s always important for people to remember that it’s the blood on the shelf that helps before, during and after disasters. So when you’re eligible, when you’re feeling well, we definitely encourage people just to go ahead and donate then, because you never know when we might have a weather issue and blood drives have to be canceled.”
In February, the American Red Cross has three blood drives that are open to the public in Cartersville: Wal-Mart Supercenter, 101 Market Blvd., Feb. 7, noon to 5 p.m.; Cartersville Civic Center, 435 W. Main St., Feb. 25, noon to 5:30 p.m.; and Georgia Highlands College, 5441 Highway 20, Feb. 27, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. While walk-in donors are welcome, people are encouraged to schedule an appointment by calling 800-RED-CROSS.
For more information about donating blood and future drives, visit www.redcrossblood.org. Further details about Blood Assurance’s offerings can be found online at www.bloodassurance.org or by calling its Cartersville location at 770-334-3261.