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Cold Weather Contributes To Blood Shortage In Wisconsin

Angelina Mosher Salazar
Mary Beth Geisen-Musha gives blood at the Versiti Blood Donation Center.

There were a lot of closures and shutdowns during the winter weather blast last week. Schools and the county courts shut their doors — even the U.S. Postal Service suspended mail delivery. Another thing that got canceled? Blood drives.

Matt Queen, spokesperson for Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin, says they had to cancel 30 community blood drives around the state.

"We lost almost 800 blood donations because of the bad weather and people not being able to make donations," said Queen. 

According to Queen, the cancellations had a devastating impact on blood supply across the state. Typically, he says Versiti Blood Center likes to keep a three-day supply on hand to stock hospitals for surgeries and emergencies. However, now they're forecasting having just a half-day supply of critical blood types, including O-positive and O-negative blood, as well as platelets. 

O-negative blood is especially important because it’s what emergency responders stock up on. When they arrive on the scene they always carry O-negative blood because it can be administered to anyone.

So, with blood supply at critical levels, Versititi Blood Center has put out an emergency plea to the community. One person who has answered the call is Mary Beth Geisen-Musha, who believes that her donation is incredibly important. 

"I think it's paramount because it saves people's lives," said Geisen-Musha. 

According to the American Red Cross, one blood donation has the potential to save three lives. The Red Cross also says that in addition to the polar vortex, there's another reason blood donations have been low the last month: the federal government shutdown. Many federal workers routinely donate blood during workplace drives.

For information on how to donate blood call 1-877-232-4376 or go to versiti.org.

Angelina Mosher Salazar joined WUWM in 2018 as the Eric Von Broadcast Fellow. She was then a reporter with the station until 2021.
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