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The American Red Cross will open five Buffalo area donation centers on New Year's Day to help meet an urgent need for blood.

A low blood supply is a routine experience at holiday time, when people are busy with family or traveling out of town.

But the storm that hit central New York has made a bad situation even worse.

"We've got a snow emergency in Syracuse. All of our blood drives in the area have been closed down because of the weather. We lost at least 500 donations Monday, and that's half the supply we get a day for upstate New York," said Andrea Strano, a spokeswoman for Red Cross Blood Services.

She said that donations from the Buffalo area are crucial to supplying blood and blood products to other parts of New York, but that only about 20 percent of the appointment slots at donation centers here had been filled for New Year's Day.

Open Thursday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. will be centers at 786 Delaware Ave., 4350 Bryant & Stratton Way, Clarence; 5161 Camp Road, Hamburg; 64 Broad St., City of Tonawanda; and AppleTree Business Park, Union at Bennett roads, Cheektowaga. Donors may schedule an appointment by calling, toll-free, 1-800-272-4543.

Officials said Monday that the supply of platelets, one of the three components of blood, was at half the level needed to meet needs of cancer patients in the area. Weak blood donations over the weekend left platelet supplies low.

They also reported there was only a 1 1/2 -day supply of Type O-Negative blood, the "universal donor" type. The Red Cross normally maintains a three-day supply of each blood type.

In issuing their appeal for donors, blood services officials expressed concern that normal blood donations would be disrupted by severe winter storms forecast for the region.

Any healthy person, 17 and older who weighs at least 110 pounds may be eligible to donate blood. Any eligible donor may donate platelets.

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