Area residents encouraged to help curtail blood shortage in region

As February begins, typical winter weather conditions and a higher-than-normal amount of people with colds and other lingering illnesses have contributed to a shortage in the region's blood supply. "Normally the holidays are a very hard time of year for blood donors across the United States. And we just had a couple of days and a couple of weeks of heavier usage, so we are not where we should be," said Dan Deschrochers, director of marketing at the Community Blood Bank of Northwestern Pennsylvania, which is the exclusive supplier of blood to all of the hospitals in Elk, McKean, Warren, Erie, Potter and Tioga counties. He said the blood bank likes to keep supplies at 100 percent, but right now they are supplied at about 60 percent. "It’s not a real serious shortage, but anything can happen, so we like to have that cushion," Deschrochers said. "We need to make sure we’re ready because we don’t know what’s coming." He said winter weather can contribute to an increased need for blood due to more automobile accidents and also prevent people from coming to donate blood.Blood drives coming up this week: Community Blood Bank blood drive - Tuesday, Feb. 7 from 10-4 a.m., education center, Elk Regional Health Center. No appointment needed. Other Community Blood Bank drives in the region may be found by zip code at Red Cross blood drives - Wednesday, Feb. 8, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. at the Moose Club, 30 Erie Ave., St. Marys Thursday, Feb. 9, 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. at the VFW Club, 427 East 3rd St., EmporiumFriday, Feb. 10 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Johnsonburg Senior Center, 430 Center St., JohnsonburgAppointments are not necessary, but can be scheduled by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or by logging onto Walk-ins are welcome. Blood donors must have picture ID, be at least 17 years old (or 16 years old with a signed parental permission slip), weigh at least 110 pounds, and be in good health the day of the blood drive. Donors are encouraged to eat and drink plenty of fluids prior to donating blood.