Hospitals, cancer patients and individuals facing medical emergencies may feel the effects of a shortage of critical blood types, according to officials at the American Red Cross Blood Services in Michigan.

This week's ice and snowstorm in Michigan helped contribute to a 14 percent shortfall in collections on Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 15 and 16.

Throughout southeastern Michigan, blood inventory levels have remained below an adequate supply for all blood types. A three-day -- or 72-hour supply -- is necessary for the needs of hospital patients. The inventory level for certain blood types has dropped to just a 12- to 24-hour supply.

"We made some gains last week with strengthening the blood supply," says Louise Eisenbrey, director of donor services, Southeastern Michigan Blood Services Region. "But those gains were quickly followed by days with low turnout, in part because of the ice storms. Steady and consistent blood donations are the key to a strong supply. We're simply not seeing that."

The Red Cross is appealing to all eligible blood donors to give. Donors, too, are urged to bring a friend to a blood drive -- both to help boost blood donations and encourage more people to become blood donors.

Statewide, the American Red Cross must collect nearly 1,600 blood donations each day to maintain the blood supply for patients in 127 Michigan hospitals. Currently, Red Cross says they have a limited amount of Type O- negative, which can be used by any patient regardless of blood type.

Blood donors must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good general health.

American Red Cross
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