American Red Cross Issues Urgent Call for Blood Donations

'Emergency situation' could arise in weeks if shortages continue

American Red Cross Issues Urgent Call for Blood Donations

WEDNESDAY, July 23, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Blood donations to the American Red Cross are down substantially, and the agency says an "emergency situation" could arise within weeks.

The looming blood shortage can be blamed, in part, on the calendar: This year, July Fourth fell on a Friday, cutting the number of blood drives the Red Cross could schedule for early July as volunteers went on vacation.

While all eligible donors are being urged to give blood, types O negative, B negative, and A negative are especially needed, the Red Cross said. Also needed are platelets, which need to be given within five days of donation, so it's essential that a fresh supply of donated platelets always be on hand.

The agency reminds Americans that blood can be safely donated every 56 days, and platelets can be donated as often as once a week. Those deemed eligible to donate blood typically include anyone age 17 or older who weighs at least 110 pounds and is in generally good health. High school students and others aged 18 or younger also have to meet certain height and weight measurements.

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