Johnson City

Winter weather causes Red Cross blood shortage

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Red Cross blood donations dropped in January due to snow, ice and very cold temperatures.

We found out what local clinics are doing to help make up the loss.

On Saturday, Johnson City resident Norman Green donated blood at the American Red Cross location on Sunset Dr., in Johnson City.

Green told us he still remembers the first time he donated blood thirty years ago. "I was with some other guys, and we stopped by. One guy said, 'Hurry up, Norman you even bleed slow!'" Green joked.

He told us since then, he's donated blood twice a year. Green said he's just trying to do his part. "So many people are ineligible, like if you go overseas or if you have any kind of medical problem [you can't donate]," he explained.

We're told you can only donate blood if you're in good health, over 17 years old, and weigh more than 110 pounds. Donors can be 16 years old, but they are required to have parental consent.

Members of the Red Cross said they can use all of the donations they can get right now. "The big impact was we had the huge winter storm that came through in early January in 25 statess so we lost the opportunity to collect 9,300 units of blood," said Gwen Hunter, the American Red Cross blood donor recruiter in East Tennessee.

Hunter told us that even though this area wasn't hit hard by storms, donations here still matter.

The Red Cross ships blood anywhere it's needed across all 50 states. We're told that one pint of blood can go to three different people in need. Hunter said on Saturday they collected enough blood to save about 75 lives. "We've had more people come out than usual," she told us.

There were familiar faces among the crowd. "I come every 56 days," said Keira Johnson, 21, of Johnson City.

Johnson told us it was her fourth time donating blood. "I used to be really scared of blood, it makes me really sick," she said. "I started donating blood so I could get over it."

Johnson said, if you're going to start giving blood, don't do it alone. "It's better to come with a friend, especially the first couple of times," she told us.

Johnson signed up for her next donation before leaving the facility on Saturday.

There will be another blood drive on Monday, January 20 at the Carver Recreation Center in Johnson City, from 12:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

You can visit the Red Cross website for a full listing of blood donation opportunities.

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