American Red Cross facing critical blood supply shortage, calls for donations

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The American Red Cross is asking people to roll up their sleeves and help save lives.

The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois said it's facing a critical blood supply shortage.

"We have a national emergency call for blood. Blood is going out to hospitals faster than it's coming in," said Joy Squier, the chief communications officer of Red Corr Chicago & Northern, Illinois.

Right now, the supply shelves look emptier than normal. Officials said platelet rotators that can hold about 132 bags, now hold less than a quarter of that.

"It's pretty serious, we're having less than three days' supply for all blood types," Squier said. "For type O were less than two days' supply and type O- is the universal blood donor, which they use in those emergency type situations those trauma situations."

The American Red Cross said after the long Fourth of July holiday weekend, they saw fewer blood drives, which meant less blood donors. They've seen a total of 17, 000 less blood donations than normal.

"In the summer months the blood supply becomes challenging because people travel, we don't see college kids donating blood, we don't see high schools donating blood where a lot of the blood supply does come from," Squier said.

The organization said even though we take a holiday, the need for blood does not - especially during the months where Chicago typically sees a spike in violence and sometimes inundated trauma centers.

"People need blood for so many reasons, people need blood because of accidents which increase in the summer," Squier said. "People need blood because of organ transplants, cancer patients, leukemia-there's so many reasons-sickle cell, so all that, the need for blood stays the same. It's constant."

American Red Cross officials said they have since added about 8,000 additional appointments at blood donation centers and community blood drives.

If you'd like to donate, sign up on the American Red Cross' website.
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