Blood banks need donations critical for patient survival

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) The American Red Cross issues alerts periodically asking for help filling blood banks. It’s no different now. The organization says there’s an urgent need for blood because of the winter weather.

Virginia Blood Services is also seeing a shortage on the shelves. Michelle Westbay with Virginia Blood Services says they require about 400-donations a day to meet the needs of hospitals and patients.

She says because of the frigid cold, blood drives have been canceled.

“We need blood all of the time, we’re giving blood to patients that come through the doors every single day,” said Sarah Beth Dinwiddie, Trauma Outreach Coordinator at Carilion Ronaoke Memorial Hospital.

Hospitals like Carilion are fortunate to get the supply they need, but officials say they also realize they need people to donate now, because without blood, patient lives are at stake.

“Our trauma patients, we never know when they’re going to show up. And it’s not only trauma patients, it’s any kind of patient, anybody having some G.I. problems, some other cardiac problems. There are lots of reasons why a patient may need to receive blood product,” Dinwiddie said.

Patients like John “Ben” Bane, who just finished up chemotherapy treatment for a rare form of cancer, Ewing’s Sarcoma, found in his pancreas, credits transfusions for his survival.

“I don’t know if I’d be here. My treatment required very aggressive chemotherapy, which like I said, caused my counts to drop regularly. So if I was unable to get a transfusion, it would have delayed my chemo. Fortunately, I’m cancer free right now. But I don’t know I would be without those transfusions,” Bane said.

His family and friends held a blood drive in his name – and he now is an advocate for donating.

“They just need to go, make it a regular kind of, part of their day to day life. I think people should just, you know, you go see the dentist, you go see the doctor, you should just add this to your list of things to do. It doesn’t take that long, and I mean, it’s life saving,” he said.

O-negative, the universal blood type, is what they need the most of, along with platelet donations, which only have a 5-day shelf life. But any donation is appreciated, especially during a time of desperate need.

If you are unable to donate, consider hosting a blood drive. Visit for more information, or visit the Red Cross for information on donating at .