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Winter storm forces dozens of Red Cross blood drives in Virginia to close

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Posted at 9:14 PM, Feb 18, 2021

SUFFOLK, Va. – Wintry conditions wreaked havoc in parts of the Commonwealth Thursday. Snow and ice blanketed utility poles and roads, causing major traffic backups on Interstate 81.

The winter blast caused dozens of American Red Cross blood drives to close across the state, mostly in central and western Virginia.

“Just today alone, we’ve lost over 300 units of blood here in Virginia,” said Kristopher Dumschat, Communications Manager with the American Red Cross in Virginia. “We’re calling on communities that are not in the storm’s path - areas like coastal Virginia that are in just a rain event - that if they’re able to schedule a blood donation appointment with us, to do so.”

Clarence Brooks of Suffolk rolled up his sleeve Thursday to donate blood at the East Suffolk Recreation Center.

“Feeling fine,” Brooks said. “I didn’t realize it was that desperately needed, but I’m glad I did show up.”

A total of 15 people donated blood at the site in Suffolk. That’s still not enough to make up for Thursday’s loss, but everything counts. Red Cross volunteers say one donation can save three lives.

“We really want to make sure we have that lifesaving blood on our shelves or ready to be shipped out to hospitals,” Dumschat said.

“With these weather events that have occurred - really one, two, three punch over the past week or so - we want to make sure we don’t fall into a dangerous situation where we don’t have those supplies.”

The need to donate is urgent as Virginians brace for another dose of wild winter weather.

“If someone wanted to donate, this is the time to do it,” said Brooks. “Whenever you can, just do it.”

If you’re eligible to donate, the American Red Cross has multiple blood drives every day. You can find donation locations and make an appointment at redcrossblood.org, download the Red Cross app or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.