The recent wave of cold weather is prompting many people to stay at home, causing blood supplies in the Chicago area to plummet to dangerously low levels.
Officials at LifeSource blood donation center say the reserves have dropped due to 50 percent cancellation rates for donors. Frigid temperatures have also led the Chicagoland blood bank to cancel a dozen mobile drives.
"We're looking at a critical situation now with our inventories and it's all because of this extreme weather that we've been having," LifeSource President and CEO Jim Covert said.
LifeSource's Chicago location is usually one of it's busiest, but on Tuesday, there were more empty chairs than people. One employee said the center had seen about eight donors so far, compared to the 30 to 40 people typically giving blood on any given day. A tray usually filled with O-negative blood at the headquarters was down to just four packets.
The low levels may force elective surgeries to be put on hold.
"This need is still here. People still get sick, people still have accidents and people are still going to the hospital and people are still having surgery," Covert said.
LifeSource is one major donor recruitment center serving the Chicago area. To learn how to donate, call 877-543-3768 or log on to www.LifeSource.org. Heartland Blood Centers also serve 49 hospitals in Chicago and northwest Indiana. The centers can be reached at 800-786-4483 or online at HeartlandBC.org.