In the blood business, January is typically a tough month. But this year in particular, a confluence of factors has left the refrigerated shelves at the Texoma Regional Blood Center literally bare.

In the blood business, January is typically a tough month. But this year in particular, a confluence of factors has left the refrigerated shelves at the Texoma Regional Blood Center literally bare.

“We’ve not experienced this critical a shortage in quite awhile,” said Director of Donor Resources Deedee Morehead. “We were closed for four days because of the ice, and that hurt us a lot — we had to cancel four drives. And then the holidays came, so that put a standstill on our blood coming in. And in January all the flu started going around, and now people are sick.”

It all adds up to serious lack of platelet-filled pints. The Regional Blood Center supplies virtually all the blood used by hospitals in the area, including both of Grayson County’s major medical facilities.

“We serve five hospitals in three counties, and they have been using the blood as it comes in the door,” said Morehead. “They’re using it pretty much as quickly as we can get it over there.”

Authorities at the center said virtually all blood types are in desperate need, with an emphasis on A+, O-, B+, and especially O+. Blood drives at area high schools are virtually the only thing keeping the supplies from depleting completely, said Morehead.

“The schools help us out a lot; they’re our main source of blood. The students, are just fantastic,” she said.

Officials explained that repeat customers are similarly vital to the organization’s operations. Those who have recently been ill are required to wait 72 hours after they stop taking medication before they can donate.

“People can donate every 56 days, so that’s another thing that I don’t think people think about,” said Morehead. “They think, ‘Well I just donated a couple months ago.’ But they could come back. We try to encourage people to come back on a regular basis.“

Morehead said that national tragedies tend to spur donations, meaning the silver lining of last year’s spate of disasters left the center flush with supplies that have since dwindled to nearly nothing.

“Last year, during all the national tragedies that went on — the bombing in Boston, the Moore tornado, and the West (explosion) — people turn out for events like that, trying to figure out how they can help. And so we get a lot of donations during that time.

“But people don’t realize that regardless of what’s going on, we still have to have blood coming in. We still have to serve the hospitals.”