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Blood Shortage Attributed To Cold Winter

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ONALASKA, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Going into the winter season, the Red Cross says blood donation numbers were by the books.

"We were on track," said Scott Friell, Red Cross Donor Recruitment Representative. "We were doing about what we would expect."

Now, three months, and an unusually cold winter later, blood supplies are dwindling nationally.

"We expect in winter that we'll have blood drive cancellations," said Friell. "This I think most people will say has been a much harsher winter than we've had in quite a few years. So that did catch us a little by surprise."

The Red Cross said close to 1,500 blood drives were canceled this winter because of the weather, leaving a shortage of around 40,000 units of blood.

On Tuesday, the Red Cross teamed up with the Onalaska High School National Honor Society for their annual blood drive.

"The students are really willing and want to help," said Beth Gamoke, Onalaska High School Councilor and National Honor Society Advisor. "So that's been really fun. Sometimes they get differed and so they can't give and they feel bad. But it's so nice for them to at least try."

Friell says about 20% of the Red Cross' blood supply comes from high school and college students, so this kind of enthusiasm is important to recover the deficit.

Heading into the spring, the Red Cross hopes less extreme weather and publicizing the need for additional donors will help ease the shortage.  They are also considering adding additional blood drives and increasing the goals of existing drives.

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