The American Red Cross said Tuesday it is facing a looming blood shortage, leading to an urgent need for donors of all blood types to roll up a sleeve and give.
Donations through the Red Cross are down about 8 percent over the last 11 weeks, resulting in about 80,000 fewer donations than expected.
The number of donors continues to decline, and the shortfall is significant enough that the Red Cross could experience an emergency situation in the coming weeks.
In addition, the Independence Day holiday falling on Friday reduced the number of blood drives scheduled in early July.
Many sponsors did not host drives because people took vacations either over the long weekend or for the entire week. In an average summer week, about 4,400 Red Cross blood drives are scheduled, compared to Independence Day week when only 3,450 drives occurred.
"Hospital patients continue to need lifesaving blood this summer, and they're relying on the generosity of volunteer donors to give them hope in the days and weeks ahead," said Jeff Allen, CEO for the Red Cross Pacific Northwest Blood Services Region.
"Please, consider giving the gift of life. Each day donations come up short, less blood is available for patients in need -- and you never know when it could be your loved one needing blood."
Eligible donors with types O negative, B negative and A negative blood are especially needed at this time. Type O negative is the universal blood type and can be transfused to anyone who needs blood. Types A negative and B negative can be transfused to Rh positive or negative patients.
There is also an urgent need for platelet donations. Platelets - a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, burn victims and bone marrow recipients - must be transfused within five days of donation, so it's important to have a steady supply of platelets on hand.
The summer can be among the most challenging times of the year for blood and platelet donations as regular donors delay giving while they take vacations and participate in summer activities. When school is out of session for summer break, donations from those who normally give on campus tend to drop by more than 80 percent.
Every day this summer is a chance to give hope to patients in need and their network of family and friends. July 13 marked the half-way point for the Red Cross campaign "100 Days of Summer. 100 Days of Hope."
Blood and platelet donations are needed now and for the rest of the summer. Individuals who donated blood earlier this summer may now be eligible to donate again and help patients such as accident victims, heart surgery patients and children with blood disorders.
How to Donate Blood
Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information.
All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver's license, or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood.
High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.