SARASOTA – January is National Blood Donor Month and it’s starting off with a nationwide critical blood shortage.

Winter is the toughest time for blood donations across the U.S.

“Yeah, it’s tougher,” Robert Harper said. “Especially with winter storms… people trying to get out and donate.”

Director of Quality Assurance at SunCoast Blood Bank says this National Blood Donor Month. They’re hoping to see new blood donors.

“There’s an urgent need for blood,” Harper said. “I know the American Red Cross has put out a plea for blood and blood donors, we are always looking for blood and blood donors, especially for platelets.”

SunCoast Blood Bank is currently facing a platelet shortage.

“We have a constant need for platelets,” Harper said. “We are always looking for platelets or new platelet donors to either convert a whole blood donor over to a platelet donor. The platelets only last five days so there is a constant need or struggle to fill our coffers.”

Platelet donations can take up to two hours, but donors are able to donate once every seven days.

“We have donors that come in and donate a platelet and two weeks later there in giving another platelet so we really appreciate their support.”

Platelets help with clotting so they’re a large part of cancer treatments and massive transfusions.

SunCoast Blood Bank has not been asked to send blood to cities facing a critical shortage, but says it’s important they keep their stocks up in case they need to help.