The worst season for the American Red Cross is summer.  With kids out of school and people planning vacations, it impacts the amount of donors. This year, however, is shaping up to be one of the worst on record.

Aspetuck News reports that the Red Cross experienced a critical blood shortage shortly after Independence Day.  But, they’re short on the most important blood type of all… type O.  Those with O- blood are universal donors while those with O+ blood can also donate to a good amount of patients, too.

O blood tends to fly off the shelves first because some emergencies don’t allow enough time for a blood test.  So, if a patient is in critical need of blood, like an accident or burn victim, hospitals grab a bag of O- because it’s the only type a body won’t reject.

However, blood donations go to other patients besides emergency surgery or transplant victims.  Blood bags are also needed for cancer, sickle cell disease, and leukemia treatments, too.

This year, blood bags are going out to hospitals faster than they are coming from donors.  As of now, the Red Cross is down 61,000 donations from the previous year.

Not only that, the Red Cross noted fewer blood drives scheduled this month.  They estimate that there’s about 700 fewer blood drives than last year.

Also, the organization says they noticed fewer first time donors stepping up this year.  They noted that they received one-third fewer new donors this year, which worries them.

That’s why the organization made an emergency call to replenish their supply before the unthinkable happens.

Kelly Isenor, external communications manager of the Connecticut Blood Services Region, explained why it’s so important to give blood:

“The blood supply is like a cell phone battery, it constantly needs recharging. We sincerely appreciate those who have responded to the call to help save lives and encourage those who haven’t to consider rolling up a sleeve and give the gift of life. It only takes about an hour but can mean a lifetime for patients.”

So, if you’re interested in making a difference, there’s several way to get started. You can schedule an appointment using the Blood Donor App.  You can also visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to set everything up.

If you’re concerned about not having enough time for an appointment;  you can also fill out a RapidPass questionnaire about your health history and cut down the time it takes to donate.

Plus, by visiting the website, you can view their calendar to find drives near you.

So, have you ever donated blood?   Have you donated more than once?   Or, have you ever been saved by a blood transfusion?  Tell me in the comments below!

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