Blood shortage: American Red Cross urging blood donations amid low supply

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The American Red Cross needs you! More specifically, it needs your blood. With less than a 3-day supply of blood, the organization is sending out an urgent plea for help.

Cancer survivor John Dirkson of North Hollywood donates so regularly he couldn't give blood until today.

Dirkson said, "I came down with bladder cancer, and ever since I've been giving back after I was clean after chemo and everything."

Not everyone is as dedicated. After the Fourth of July break, blood and platelet donations are way down. The American Red Cross now faces a severe blood shortage.

Geri Ostil Hernandez, a local market manager for California, American Red Cross said, "The levels right now are at two- to three-day supply. We normally would like to have a five-day supply of blood for any emergencies. Hospitals are depending on us."

Hernandez said the recent earthquakes should be a wake up call.

"The recent earthquakes, shootings and fires and different things that may occur or accidents, we always have to be ready and be prepared," Hernandez said.

In July, across the country, there have been 450 fewer blood drives which led to 17,000 fewer donations.

"Locally, we are at a short supply of 1,900 units of blood." Hernandez said.

The American Red Cross knows donations go down every summer. In June, it launched its Missing Types campaign. It raised awareness, but it didn't raise enough donations.

Hernandez said, "Blood has a shelf life of 42 days, so people can donate up to six times a year and go 56 days between donations."

Donors of all blood types are urged to make an appointment. You can register with the Blood Donor App or go online at RedCrossBlood.org.

And if you complete the Rapid Pass online health history questionnaire, it can save you 15 minutes of wait time.

Blood donor Kelley Williams of Altadena said, "Now you can take the test on your phone and then you can come in so you don't have to wait as long before you give blood."

To fill the urgent need, the American Red Cross is working to accommodate as many appointments as possible.

Dirkson said, "If you ever get hurt and you don't have blood, you're going to feel bad because you just didn't do it when you could."
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