Wise County ice storm freezes blood donations

By Erika Pedroza | Published Saturday, January 11, 2014

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It’s been a month since an ice storm paralyzed much of North Texas in early December. But many are still feeling the effects. Among the latest victims are local blood banks.

According to Karina Halcombe, recruiter for Carter BloodCare, the area is under critical appeal.

“This means that we do not have enough blood on the shelves to meet the needs of the community,” she said. “Blood is coming off the shelves faster than we can replenish it … Needs are being met, but there is no reserve. And without a reserve, the demands may not be met in case there’s a catastrophe.”

According to Halcombe, several factors led to the shortage. Blood banks typically see a drop in donations during the holidays.

“People get busy with what they’re doing,” she said. “They keep saying they’ll go tomorrow, but they never get it done.”

Although blood banks portion out their donations to hold them through the holidays, the inclement weather complicated the situation and is perhaps the leading cause of the shortage this time.

“Because of the weather, many schools and businesses, where blood drives were to be held, were closed,” Holcombe said. “That cost us thousands of units.”

According to the Carter BloodCare website, 1,100 donors are needed to serve the 58 Texas counties Carter serves.

Every donation of blood can help save more than one life because it can be processed into its components – red cells, platelets, plasma and cryoprecipitate.

Red cells can be used for 42 days after they are donated. They are used in the treatment of accident victims, to replace blood lost during surgery, to treat burn victims and to increase the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity. They are also used in treatment of anemia that can’t be medically corrected.

Platelets are stored separate from other components and must be used in the five days following the donation. They are used to treat bone marrow failure, leukemia and cancer patients, low platelet count or other conditions causing abnormally functioning platelets.

Plasma has a much longer shelf life and is often frozen for later use. Once thawed, plasma is used during cardiac surgery, for burn victims and to treat bleeding disorders when many clotting factors are missing. This occurs in liver failure, when too much of a blood thinner has been given, or when severe bleeding and massive transfusions result in low levels of clotting factors.

Factor VIII concentrate and cryoprecipitate are used by patients with hemophilia A (classic hemophilia), which is caused by a deficiency of factor VIII. Each donation can save up to three lives.

“We’re hoping the community hears our plea and comes to the nearest blood drive to donate,” Holcombe said.

A few drives are scheduled locally in the next two weeks. They include:

  • 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 12, at St. John’s Catholic Church, 1801 Irvin St., in Bridgeport, 940-683-2743;
  • 5 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 22, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 202 E. Thompson St., in Decatur, 940-627-5534;
  • 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, at Northwest High School, 2301 Texan Dr., in Justin, 817-215-0200.

No appointment is necessary. For an updated list of blood drives, visit

For more information, visit

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