GREENVILLE — It’s well known that Montcalm County schools have had a lot of snow days due to the wintery weather the area has experienced, but few are apprised to the affect it has had on blood banks.
Michigan Blood, a non profit blood bank, has seen a large amount of its blood drives cancelled because of weather and road conditions. And the drives it has been able to hold this winter, they’ve been poorly attended because donors choose not to brave the conditions.
“We’ve had a lot of cancellations, this last round of snow this last week and in the beginning of January,” said Carolyn Wyllie, public information coordinator for Michigan Blood.
A drive scheduled for last Jan. 31 at Greenville High School was one of those cancelled. Others simply had low turnout.
“The ones that we did hold, we didn’t see the showings we normally do,” Wyllie said.
What does that mean for supply?
Statewide, Michigan Blood is down 1,000 units (or pints) of blood from last week. Wyllie said the goal is around 2,200 units to keep up with demand.
While that didn’t seem to deeply affect those seeking blood for transfusions and the like, it did mean trying to make up for the loss.
“It had no impact on delivery to the hospitals, we did hear that from the hospitals,” Wyllie said. “But what happens is we’ll have to scramble to make up for it in the days after. We’ve put out calls for donors.”
Lindsey DeYoung — mother of Lola DeYoung, a 7-year-old Greenville girl diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow — said her daughter did need to wait a bit longer than normal for a platelet transfusion needed last week due to the low supply.
Instead of waiting just minutes, DeYoung said it took around 12 hours and instead of being the same blood type, Lola received platelets from blood of a different type. While it’s not ideal, the platelets can be taken from different blood types.
Lola is currently home, resting from her most recent dosage of chemotherapy. Her mother said she is in the middle of this round of high dosage chemotherapy treatment and will return to impatient care Feb 14.
Because of fewer donations recently, the concern for DeYoung, she said, was if Lola needs an emergency transfusion.
“It has not directly affected us at this point, but if she needs an emergency transfusion, who knows,” she said.
But Wyllie said blood drives across Michigan are being organized to try to make up for lost ground last week , as well as during an early January storm.
While the Greenville High School drive will not be rescheduled, those wishing to donate can attend a blood drive from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Greenville American Legion, 1320 W. Washington St.
“And there’s always our main donor center in Grand Rapids, which is open every day,” Wyllie added. That center is located at 1036 Fuller NE, Grand Rapids.
For additional information on Michigan Blood, contact 1-866-642-5663.