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New guidelines for blood donors in wake of...

Posted at 3:56 PM, Feb 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-18 11:43:30-05

Since the start of the year snow, ice and blizzard conditions have canceled more than 350 blood drives nationwide.

“Just this month we had to cancel more than 20 blood drives just in Nebraska,” said Katie Marshall.

Red Cross Communications Manager Katie Marshall says canceling those 20 drives cost the Red Cross more than 850 pints of blood. 

Now the spread of the Zika Virus has sidelined more donors.  As a precautionary measure the FDA and American Red Cross asks that anyone who has traveled to Mexico, the Caribbean, or Central or South America to not donate blood for at least 28 days after arriving back in the US.

Despite taking these precautionary measures, Dr. Susan Stramer with the Red Cross stressed that the chances of Zika-infected blood donations remain extremely low in the US.

Some states estimate that these restrictions will reduce blood donors by two percent, Nebraska doesn't yet know how it will affect its donations.

“If they let enough people know that there is a shortage already and there may be another shortage, maybe some people will step up,” said Donna Colligan.

Donna Colligan knows the importance of donating blood.

“It's very important because, I would have bled to death at my surgery, it basically saved my life,” said Colligan.

Colligan and dozens of other donors filled a donation center on Wednesday.  The Red Cross hopes despite some setbacks, donors will be plentiful once again.

“We can't manufacture blood, we can't stock it up forever, so we need to continue to reach out to people and depend on the generosity and the kindness of volunteer donors,” said Marshall.

The Red Cross has made it easier than ever to donate.  You can find donation locations, schedule appointments and track donations on their app.  Head here to download the Red Cross app for Apple products https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/blood-donor-by-american-red/id911428916?mt=8 link for Android phones https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cube.arc.blood