DETROIT (WWJ) – The American Red Cross is looking for a few good veins.

The American Red Cross has issued an urgent call for blood and platelet donors of all blood types to give now to help address a winter blood donation shortage. Platelet and type O negative and B negative blood donations – in particular – are critically needed right now.

Todd Kulman, with the American Red Cross in Michigan, said the national shortage is due in part to the severe winter weather and the widespread flu epidemic.

“We’ve had more than 550 blood drives that have been forced to cancel due to winter weather in the first three weeks of this month — and that’s caused about 16,500 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected,” he said.

The Red Cross provides about 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply, and currently Red Cross blood products are being distributed to hospitals as fast as donations come in.

The Red Cross must collect more than 13,000 donations every day for patients at about 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide. Accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease may all require blood to help save their lives.

Eligible individuals are urged to schedule a blood or platelet donation by visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

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