WICHITA — Ongoing severe winter weather has more than doubled the number of canceled American Red Cross blood drives and the resulting blood and platelet donation shortfall since earlier this month. The Red Cross now considers the situation critical and is reissuing an urgent call for blood and platelet donors.

More than 550 blood drives have been forced to cancel due to winter weather in January, causing over 16,500 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected through last week. In addition, bitter cold and widespread flu have contributed to very low turnout at many blood drives.

Make an appointment to give blood by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Upcoming blood donation opportunities in this area are:

—  9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 14 at Bethany College, 335 E. Swensson, Lindsborg

— 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 14 at McPherson College Union, 1600 Euclid St., McPherson

— 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 15 at Central Christian College, 1200 S. Maple St., McPherson

To donate blood, simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients.

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive.

To get started, follow the instructions at redcrossblood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.