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The Red Cross says "severe winter weather" the past few weeks has chiefly led to this situation, forcing the cancellation of more than 150 blood drives and affecting more than 5,500 planned donations.

"Even temporary disruptions to blood and platelet donations can diminish the availability for hospital patients", says Kelly Isenor, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Red Cross Blood Services Region.

CLEVELAND- The American Red Cross is facing a winter blood shortage and is pleading for blood and platelet donations.

Michigan Blood stated there is now an urgent need for all blood types and a special need for O-negative blood, the universal donor, which has dangerously low levels.

And it will support a nationwide effort to boost donations, as January is National Blood Donor Month. The Red Cross' Danvers facility on Rosewood Drive is open every day for the rest of the month. The Red Cross provides about 40 percent of the nation's blood supply, and now Red Cross blood products are being distributed to hospitals as fast as donations come in.

Platelets: The clotting portion of blood primarily given to cancer patients during treatment and always in great demand. "Sometimes they'll send a friend or family member in their spot to donate so we don't lose that blood product".

Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass are encouraged to help speed up the donation process. RapidPass can now be completed on mobile devices and through the Blood Donor App. Students can donate once they're 16 years old and a lot of blood comes from high schools. "Low blood collections over the holiday season, combined with the cold weather impacting donor turnout, have put our local inventory at risk of reaching a critically-low level". By giving platelets regularly, donors can help patients kick cancer and recover from other life-threatening illnesses and injuries.

Eligible donors with types O, A negative and B negative blood are urged to make a Power Red donation, where available.