North Texas and Oklahoma Faces Blood Emergency

The Texas and Oklahoma Blood Institute has declared a blood emergency, after winter weather caused a shortage in blood donations.

Frozen roads and cold temperatures outside prompted many donors to cancel as soon as the weather dipped below freezing last week, leaving the institute with limited blood supply and tons of hospital patients that need it.

"What blood emergency means is our inventory has fallen to about a one day supply. Typically, we like to keep a 4 to 5 day supply in order to make sure we can meet the needs of patients in local hospitals," said Texas and Oklahoma Blood Institute Executive Director Daren Coats.

The institute needs 600 units of blood per day, that's used among the 164 hospitals they serve. So they are asking for the community's help.

"If your family, your loved one, someone in need is there at the hospital, we want to make sure that we are right with them to help that person come through," said Coats.

Jamie Slaugenhop has donated blood for the past 38 years, and says the cold weather isn't going to stop him from donating.

"I feel like paying back to the other people who have donated to me. After you get that paid back, you want to help other people," he said.

The average blood donation process takes about 45 minutes where one pint of blood is drawn out. The blood is then taken to the lab where it is separated into 3 components; the plasma, platelets and red blood cells. Each donation of blood can save three lives.

"It's really simple. You can make a difference by making that decision that you want to help," said Coats.

"It takes a little bit of time but it helps. It's great for everybody," said Slaugenhop.

Approximately 60% or adults in the United States are qualified to donate blood, but only 5% actually donate.

Minors as young as 16 can donate by bringing in a parent consent form. Minors who are 16 years old must weigh at least 125 pounds, while anyone 17 years and over must weigh at least 110 pounds.

For the parent consent form, donor requirements and more information on how to donate, click here.

Cynthia Kobayashi, Newschannel Six.