To replenish an extremely low supply this summer, the American Red Cross has issued an emergency call for blood and platelet donations.

According to the Red Cross, blood donations have been falling short of hospital and blood transfusion center needs for the last couple of months, leading to around 39,000 fewer donations than what is necessary.

Fourth of July celebrations and vacation plans, for instance, may have led to regular donors postponing donations. A prior poll showed that over three-fourths of surveyed donors indicated vacation plans in the summer, many taking place in the weeks leading up to and following Independence Day.

There are usually fewer donations during summer, leading to a strain on the supply, said Biomedical Field Marketing and Communications manager Krystal Overmyer – this despite the need for blood staying constant throughout the year.

“Whether people are driving for summer vacations or are busy with other summer activities, they’re less likely to give,” she said, adding that local demands typically get priority but blood can nonetheless be sent across the nation whenever needed.

Red Cross has made an emergency request for blood donations because blood supplies for hospitals are moving faster than donations are pouring in.

“If you've thought about giving blood and helping to save lives, now is the time to do it," said Red Cross Blood Services communications director Nick Gehrig. "It's the blood donations on the shelves that help save lives when an emergency occurs.”

Some 14,000 blood donations are needed every day to support medical patients at about 2,600 hospitals and blood transfusion facilities around the country. Volunteer donors are a critical part of this, the Red Cross reminded.

Last March, the organization expressed a significant need for type O negative blood, the “universal” kind that can be given to patients of any blood type. It is usually employed in emergency situations, although less than 7 percent of the country’s population has it.

Donations from people of all blood types are welcome and encouraged. If you would like to donate, you may schedule an appointment via the Red Cross Blood Donor app, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit the site Upon check-in, your blood donor card, driver’s license or two other ID cards will be required.

The Red Cross has extended its donation hours at many sites to allow for more donor appointments.

Donors must be at least aged 17, weigh a minimum of 100 pounds, and, if residing in certain states, may be younger but must meet specific height and weight requirements.

Photo: Gabriel Flores Romero | Flickr

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