The American Red Cross supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood, but not without significant help from communities.
Cara Noble, the group’s communication’s manager, says the Red Cross is nearing a shortage on certain blood types. She noted that summer can be a slow season for donations.
“We don’t have blood drives happening at our high schools and colleges because they’re out of session,” Noble said. “Another factor that plays into it is donors are often excited to be enjoying the summer weather. They’re going on vacation, they’re traveling with family members, and blood donations often are not at the top of their to-do list.”
The need for certain types of blood is particularly high right now.
“Those blood types are O negative, B negative and A negative,” Noble said. “We’re asking donors of those blood types to please consider making an appointment now or going to blood drives as a walk-in to give blood.”
O negative is the universal type because it can be transfused to patients with any type of blood. B negative and A negative blood can be transfused to Rh positive or negative patients.
“We also have an urgent need at the following time for platelets and Type AB blood donors,” Noble added.
Cancer patients, surgical patients or bone marrow recipients often require additional platelets, which help the blood to clot. Platelets must be transfused within five days of the donation. Type AB blood can be used for its universal plasma type. It can be given to patients of all blood types.
There have been about 876 fewer donations in the New York and Pennsylvania region per month during this year’s June and July than the previous 10 months.
“We welcome any blood types at this point and you don’t need to know your blood type to come and donate and help save a life,” Noble said. “It takes about one hour from when you walk in to when you leave.”
Donors can schedule an appointment at redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS. The Red Cross also has a free Blood Donor App where people can schedule an appointment, access their digital donor card and receive notifications when their donation is given to a hospital.