Washington, DC - The American Red Cross issued an emergency appeal today asking eligible blood and platelet donors to give as soon as possible.

Right now, Red Cross blood products are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in. Blood donations have fallen short of hospital needs for the past few months, resulting in about 39,000 fewer donations than what’s needed, as well as a significant draw-down of its overall blood supply.

“We urge people to give now to help hospital patients who depend on blood and platelets being available when they need it,” said Chris Hrouda, executive vice president, Red Cross Biomedical Services. “Summer is one of the most challenging seasons to collect enough blood, but patients need blood no matter what time of year it is.”

Over the Fourth of July weekend, the Red Cross had a tough time collecting enough blood donations. A recent survey of Red Cross blood donors showed more than 75 percent indicated vacation plans this summer, many of them occurring the week before and after July 4. Nearly 650 fewer blood drives are held the week of July 4 than during an average week. That is approximately the equivalent of the Red Cross not collecting any blood donations for an entire day. However, patients do not get a summer holiday from needing blood.

Watch Mae’s Story

One of the patients who depends on blood donors for help is 11-year-old Mae Rainey, who needs regular blood transfusions as part of her treatment for a blood disorder.

“It means everything to me to see people willing to give their blood,” said Josh Rainey, Mae’s older brother. “There’s people out there willing to take time out of their lives to do that – not knowing who it is going to affect, not knowing that it’s going to be my little sister sitting in that chair every 21 days receiving that blood.”

Mae’s story illustrates how volunteer blood donors are needed each and every day to help save lives. In fact, every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs a blood transfusion.

Schedule an Appointment to Give Now

Eligible blood donors are urged to schedule a donation today by using the Red Cross Blood Donor app, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767). Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in most states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

The Red Cross has added more than 350 hours to donation centers and community blood drives across the country over the next few weeks. Donors are encouraged to make a donation appointment to reduce possible wait-times at blood donation sites.

Blood and platelet donors can also save time when they donate by completing a RapidPass, which enables donors to complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, prior to arriving at the blood drive. To complete a RapidPass, follow the instructions at www.redcrossblood.org/RapidPass.