Harsh cold causes blood donation decline in some areas

January is National Blood Donor Month, but the Arctic blast that has swept the region this month caused central Pennsylvania donation center closures and blood drive cancellations.

At least 18 blood drives were canceled, and about 300 uncollected blood and platelet donations have been lost in six states since the new year began, according to the Red Cross of the Greater Alleghenies.

A majority of those closures were in Pennsylvania, said Marianne Spampinato, spokeswoman for the Red Cross of the Greater Alleghenies, which includes Centre County.

Centre County, Spampinato said, has not had any cancellations in the past week.

The nearest blood donation drive closure was Tuesday in Frenchville, Clearfield County, she said. That drive has not yet been rescheduled, but an additional blood drive was scheduled in nearby DuBois.

“We’re trying to reschedule where we have openings and may need to go into February,” Spampinato said. “On paper, we scheduled heavy this month, so it’s a shame the weather was so bad.”

Locally, the Red Cross helps supply blood donations to Mount Nittany Medical Center.

Spampinato said she wasn’t sure how the decrease in blood donations would affect the hospital, but she said the Red Cross has an urgent need for blood types O positive and negative, and A and B negative.

“Fortunately, we had a very good holiday hold in Centre County for what was scheduled,” Spampinato said. “We were short blood drives the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s, but what was scheduled was strong. Now supplies are tightening.”

Every Tuesday, the donation center at 135 S. Pugh St. is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It was open Tuesday, but weather did affect the drive.

“We did not meet our goal on Tuesday,” Spampinato said. “We do appreciate the donors who did come by despite the awful weather.”