CHICAGO (STMW) — The American Red Cross, experiencing its lowest supply of blood donations in a decade because of severe winter weather, is urging anyone who can give blood to do so.

Weather across the eastern half of the country in recent weeks has caused the cancellation of more than 14,000 blood and platelet donations, a release from the Red Cross said.

The severity of the impact has stressed even the organization’s robust national inventory management system, which can quickly move blood products to where they’re needed most, such as where severe weather hits.

“We have not seen the January supply drop this dramatically in a decade and we need to reverse this now,” Shelly Heiden, CEO of the Heart of America Red Cross Blood Services region, based in Peoria, said.

“You don’t wait to refuel once you’ve run out of gas. Donating blood or platelets now helps ensure immediate and future patient needs will be met.”

The Red Cross urges all eligible donors in unaffected areas to give blood or platelets in the coming days, and those in affected areas to donate as soon as travel is deemed safe, by calling (800) 733-2767 or by visiting

Donations will help replenish the blood supply to ensure that blood products are readily available. The need for blood is constant, the release said. Blood is perishable and has no substitute. Red blood cells have a shelf life of 42 days and platelets just 5 days – they must be replenished constantly.

All blood types are needed, especially type O negative, to ensure a reliable supply. Individuals 17 (16 with parental permission in some states) and older, weighing at least 110 pounds and in generally good health may be eligible to donate.

Some upcoming area Red Cross blood drives include:

— Tuesday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at Loyola University, Coffey Hall, 1000 W. Sheridan in Chicago.

— Wednesday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Northeastern Illinois University, Student Union, 5500 N. St. Louis.

— Thursday, 3-8 p.m. at DePaul University, Meyer Fitness Center, 2235 N. Sheffield.

— Friday, noon-7 p.m. at Children’s Memorial Research Center, 2430 N. Halsted St.

Watch & Listen LIVE