Big storms like Sandy, nor'easter deplete blood supplies

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November 7, 2012, 6:45 pm
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(NECN: Katelyn Tivnan) - Every day, hospitals rely on blood donations to save patients’ lives.

Big storms, like Sandy, can deplete their supplies.

Now, with winter almost upon us, hospitals are putting out the word about the importance of giving blood.

With winter’s first storm approaching, Ross Beales spent his morning donating blood platelets at UMass Memorial Medical Center.

The platelets are separated from the blood and commonly used in cancer treatment and traumas.

“It began when a colleague of mine at Holy Cross said his wife had breast cancer and was asking for platelet donors,” says Beales.

Years later, Beales has made donating a part of his routine.

Hospitals like UMass Memorial transfer up to 2,000 units of blood a month and rely in part on blood donors.

But maintaining the supply can be a challenge.

"People don't always think of a hospital-based blood donation and usually think of places like the Red Cross in the community,” says Eileen Karr, “but it’s important people remember all the blood donated here stays in the hospital community."

Storms like hurricane Sandy are having a major impact on blood supplies.

The Red Cross of central Massachusetts, says the hurricane cancelled almost 380 blood drives in 13 states.

"When we have disasters like this or the upcoming Nor’easter that could hit the coast, it’s important people remember we need to keep that supply high,” says Janet Kinsbury Warren.

The process only takes about 10 to 15 minutes, and I can tell you first hand its relatively painless. One unit of blood can go to help two people in the hospital.

"Most likely, someone you don't know but maybe someone you do,” says Karr. “It’s important people remember when you donate you are saving someone's life.”

But for Beales, taking the time to donate is time well spent.

"It’s easy to do. It’s painless and I’m rewarded by just knowing that I’m making a difference."

Tags: Katelyn Tivnan, blood donation , UMass Memorial Medical Center, noreaster, weather stories, Hurricane Sandy, red cross of central massachusetts
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