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BOISE -- After bitter cold gripped some of the country, the American Red Cross is now facing a blood shortage.

Wednesday was a normal weekday at the Red Cross off Franklin Road. People like Ylonda Hays were there, giving life-saving blood. I have it, so why not share?

What has not been normal is the weather in the Northeast and Midwest, where driving snow and bitter cold has canceled school, workdays, and blood drives.

Jane Stutzman is the Idaho donor recruitment manager with the American Red Cross. Since January 2nd we've had about 280 blood drives that have been canceled in approximately 25 various states.

That's put the national supply behind by about 8,400 blood and platelet donations. That's why Stutzman is encouraging everyone to get out and donate, even here, thousands of miles from the areas hit hardest by the storms. What we're doing is encouraging people if they haven't donated blood before to consider doing so. Now is a great time to do it. The need is definitely there.

The Red Cross in Idaho tries to get 1,200 units of blood a week. It sounds like a lot until you realize that they provide blood to 40 hospitals in Idaho, Eastern Washington and Oregon. Also, blood can't be stockpiled. Its shelf-life is a little more than a month. Platelets, which are often needed by cancer patients, are good for just five days.

The need for blood is constant, said Stutzman. We are out collecting on a daily basis. It's not something where we can figure out, 'Oh, we did great in December, so we have enough to cover us.' Basically, it's a challenge that we face every day.

Stutzman says your donation could save a life of someone here in Idaho, or thousands of miles away. Giving blood is a very easy process. It takes about an hour. It really is a small amount of time, but it does have a huge impact.

You can give blood at the Red Cross in Boise, Monday through Friday. But, not all hours of the day. So, while they accept walk-ins, they encourage you to call and make an appointment, so they can get you in and out.

Just call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

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