(OLNEY/NEWTON) While the ongoing severe winter weather has more than doubled the number of canceled American Red Cross blood drives over the past several weeks, the resulting blood and platelet donation shortfall continues to get worse. The Red Cross now considers the situation critical and is re-issuing an urgent call for blood and platelet donors. More than 550 blood drives have been forced to cancel due to the winter weather in January alone, causing over 16,500 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected through last week here in the Midwestern region. It’s estimated that every day, no matter the weather, the Red Cross must collect more than 13,000 blood and platelet donations to meet the needs of patients in the bi-state area of downstate Illinois and Missouri. For more information and details, logon at www.redcrossblood.org. Be listening & watching for local blood drives coming up in Southeastern Illinois.