Lehigh Valley

Bursting pipes send local blood bank into crisis mode

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Throughout the deep freeze we heard many reports of pipes bursting.

It's a mess a local blood bank is all-too familiar with. Miller Keystone's Bethlehem donor center is now in clean-up mode after a pipe burst and its other locations are trying to pick up the slack.

Miller Keystone says blood levels were extremely low before this due to the holidays and two weeks of bone chilling temperatures.

"The disaster that we faced could not have come at a worse time of year due to weather concerns, the holidays and the shortage of blood that we typically face in this time period," said Michael McShane with Miller Keystone.

The watery mess flooded Miller Keystone Blood Center in Bethlehem and although no blood was damaged, the incident has sent the organization into crisis mode.

Cityline crews are busy replacing drywall, carpets, and insulation, but the real damage could be to the Lehigh Valley's blood supply.

The Bethlehem center supplies a third of the blood Miller Keystone sends to 22 hospitals and 12 counties.

"That's a shame, In my opinion everybody should come out to donate. Everybody should. You never know, one day you might need it," said donor Jennifer Koehler.

Koehler is one of the donors who is trying to fill the chairs at Miller Keystone's locations in Allentown and Easton.

Both locations have extended hours from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. to handle the influx of donors and staff.

But Miller Keystone isn't the only blood supplier dealing with a crisis..

The Lehigh Valley - Bucks chapter of the American Red Cross says it too has been hit hard.

Officials there say January is typically when they see a rebound from low holiday numbers.

But two weeks of bone chilling cold has forced blood drive cancellations and is taking a toll on the lifesaving supply.

Especially needed are platelets to help cancer patients.

"Inventories are at such a critical level right now even the smallest disruption can have a large impact," said McShane.

Miller Keystone hopes to have the Bethlehem site open by Friday, but donations are needed now.

If you would like to donate, visit the Miller Keystone website or the American Red Cross Lehigh Valley - Bucks Chapter website.

You can also give the local offices of the American Red Cross and the Miller Keystone Blood Center a call.

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