By Doug Ireland email@example.com
---- — The devastating impact of Sandy forced the cancellation of about 300 blood drives along the East Coast, prompting the American Red Cross to issue an urgent plea for blood.
That’s why Southern New Hampshire and Merrimack Valley residents are among those being asked to roll up their sleeves and donate.
“We are asking eligible donors to come out and replenish the blood supply,” American Red Cross spokeswoman Donna Morrissey said yesterday.
Thirty-two blood drives in New Hampshire and Massachusetts were canceled Monday and Tuesday because of the storm, she said.
At least five of six scheduled drives in New Hampshire were postponed. There was one scheduled Monday at Windham Presbyterian Church, but Morrissey didn’t know if was canceled. No one from the church could be reached for comment yesterday.
The cancellations come at a time when blood is in desperate need after the powerful storm killed at least 61 people and injured many others.
The injured include William DeLuca III of Windham, a popular resident and businessman who was left in critical condition when a falling tree struck the car in which he was a passenger.
The cancellations resulted in the loss of 836 units of blood in Massachusetts and 324 in New Hampshire, Morrissey said. More than 300 cancellations in 14 states included the potential loss of 8,000 units of blood in the Northeast alone and 11,000 total, Morrissey said.
“That’s an astonishing number and we want to make up as much as we can,” she said. “It’s crucial that we constantly replenish the supply.”
Hosts of the drives are trying to reschedule them, but it can be difficult, Morrissey said.
Morrissey said the Red Cross did the best it could to prepare for the storm before it struck Monday, activating 2,300 disaster response workers and shipping blood from other parts of the country to the Northeast.
The emergency personnel assisting residents of hard-hit New York and New Jersey included a team of firefighters from the Granite State, according to David Lang, president of the Londonderry-based Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire.
The team was working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help those in need, he said.
Upon hearing yesterday about the urgent need for blood, Lang said he would ask the union’s more than 2,000 members to donate.
Morrissey asks anyone who can to give blood. She herself donated platelets because of the urgent need. Platelets are especially needed because they only last about five days, Morrissey said.
“I personally wanted to do something,” she said. “There are so many ways people can help.”
The Red Cross needs not only blood donations, but financial contributions as well, Morrissey said. Text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief.
Morrissey said New England residents are known for stepping up to help when others are in need.
“New Englanders have a very generous spirt and very generous hearts,” she said.
Donors must be 17 or 16 with parental permission in some states, weigh at least 110 pounds, and be in good health.
A blood donor card or driver’s license, or two others forms of identification are required.
Visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS to schedule an appointment.
Upcoming blood drives
Wednesday, Nov. 7 — Plaistow Fish & Game Club, 18 May Ray Ave., Plaistow, 1 to 6 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 9 — First Parish Congregational Church, 47 East Derry Road, East Derry, 1 to 6 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 13 — Londonderry Lions Club Hall, 256 Manchester Road, Londonderry, 1 to 6 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 15 — Knights of Columbus Hall, 37 Main St., Salem, 1 to 7 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 16 — St. Jude Parish, 435 Mammoth Road, Londonderry, 1 to 7 p.m.