JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - This week's snow storm closed businesses throughout the Tri-Cities; among the hardest hit were blood donation clinics. Unfortunately for them, this isn't the first time they've had to shut down this winter.
Conner Hall goes to the Johnson City American Red Cross blood drive center every 52 days.
Hall says he signs up ahead of time, but this week the Red Cross called him three times just to make sure he was coming. "I had to tell them I was already signed up for [a drive]," he said.
Collection supervisor Mark Ciptak says the Red Cross is trying to get every donation they can after the snow shut them down for an unprecedented two days this week. "Maybe a blood drive here or there [can be cancelled], but to shut the whole region down for two solid days is something I've never seen in 10 years," adds Ciptak.
Red Cross centers were closed in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee on Wednesday and Thursday. It cost the Johnson City center about 50 to 60 units of blood -- that amount can help up to 180 people.
The Red Cross says even if they were able to collect the blood, they wouldn't have been able to ship it to processing centers in Atlanta and Charlotte.
At the Marsh Regional Blood Center in Kingsport, director Don Campbell says they process their blood in-house, so transportation wasn't an issue for them; however they did cancel blood drives last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. "We probably lost close to 400 units over those three days," adds Campbell.
Campbell says that's a concern, because during bad weather is often when trauma centers need blood the most. "Demand will always go up a little bit, and they go for the O-negative blood. That's your universal donor," he told us.
We're told donations of all blood types are needed now.