Urgent call for blood donations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey

Severe weather on the East Coast has led to the recent cancellation of 14,000 blood and platelet donations, including an estimated 1,800 units in New Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania, the American Red Cross said Tuesday in making its first national appeal since 2004.

“We have not seen the January supply drop this dramatically in a decade,” Brigid O’Neill LaGier, CEO of the Penn-Jersey Blood Services Region, said in a statement. “This situation is urgent and we can’t wait until we run out before we react as a community.”

The call does not mean that blood supplies are exhausted. The red cross carefully manages inventory and said it had factored in projected collections over the next two weeks.

But blood is perishable and supplies must be constantly replenished. Red blood cells have a shelf life of 42 days, the red cross said, and platelets, five days.

Most healthy people age 17 and older (16 with parental consent in New Jersey and Pennsylvania) are eligible to donate. Volunteers were urged to schedule an appointment online or by calling 1-800-733-2767.