Sustained winter weather has drained a blood supply already strained from COVID-related cancellations and closures. As a result, Oklahoma Blood Institute is experiencing an emergency need for blood donations of all types in Cherokee County.

"A single day of winter weather is manageable. More than a week of sustained winter weather is devastating to the blood supply," said Dr. John Armitage, president and CEO of OBI. "We need eligible donors to donate immediately in order to ensure blood is on the shelves for Oklahomans who need it."

Due to winter weather, donations have been dramatically reduced, during a time when blood drives are already struggling with consistent collections due to COVID-related cancellations.

Blood has no substitute and is perishable, with a shelf life of just 42 days. Blood supplies must be constantly replenished. The OBI provides more than 90 percent of the blood to the state, requiring 1,200 donors each day to keep a healthy supply of blood on the shelf.

Upcoming blood drives in the Tahlequah area include: Tuesday, Feb, 16, 1-6 p.m., Faith Chapel Church Fellowship Hall, 12134 State Highway 82A; Friday, Feb. 19, 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Oklahoma Department of Human Services, 1298 W. Fourth St.; Feb. 19, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., OSU Medical College, 19500 E. Ross St.; Monday, 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Lowe's Tahlequah, 161 Meadow Creek Drive; and Wednesday, Feb. 24, and Thursday, Feb. 25, 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m., Northeastern Health System West Building, 1400 E. Downing St.

Donors should visit or call 877-340-8777 to schedule an appointment. Most adults 16 and over and in good health can donate, in a process that takes about an hour. Those who have received the most common COVID-19 vaccines - Pfizer and Moderna - can donate without a deferral period. Those who have received other vaccinations must wait two weeks before donating.

"Our generous donors have always stepped up when the need is great," Armitage said. "We're counting on them now, as we face a period of historic weather and pandemic-related challenges. At a time of great need, every single unit matters."

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