About 300 American Red Cross blood drives have been canceled because of Superstorm Sandy, the organization said Tuesday, and more cancellations are expected.
"Patients will still need blood despite the weather," said Dr. Richard Benjamin, Red Cross chief medical officer, in a statement. "To ensure a sufficient national blood supply is available for those in need, both during and after the storm passes, it is critical that those in unaffected areas make an appointment to donate blood as soon as possible."
Because of the cancellations, more than 9,000 blood and platelet donations across 14 states - which would otherwise be available for those needing transfusions - did not take place, the organization said. The situation may worsen as the remnants of Sandy may continue to cause damage.
Typically, the Red Cross holds about 600 blood drives daily, said spokeswoman Stephane Millian.
The organization moved blood and blood products to areas threatened by Sandy before the storm hit, but "the long-term impact of power outages and blood drive cancellations is expected to be significant," it said in a statement.
"With the power outages, and the flooding in many areas, and some damage, obviously that will result in even more cancellations" probably through the end of the week, Millian said. "Hospital patients still need blood and blood products."
Blood is needed by someone in the United States every two seconds, the Red Cross said. On average, 44,000 blood donations are needed daily to treat victims of accidents, cancer patients and children with blood disorders.
Individuals who are over the age of 17 (16 in some states, with parental permission), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in good general health can donate blood.
Even if you are far away from Sandy's wrath, the organization can ship blood to areas where it is needed, Millian said. However, most donated blood first goes to help people in local communities before being sent elsewhere.
There are several ways to help the Red Cross, Millian said. One is by donating blood and platelets. Another is by giving to the disaster relief effort. "The response to Sandy is large and it's costly, and the Red Cross needs help with that as well - providing shelter, food and emotional support to those affected," she said.
To donate blood, visit redcrossblood.org or call 800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767). You can also text the word "redcross" to 90999 to make a $10 donation or visit redcross.org.