An emergency blood shortage in Southern California and across the nation prompted the American Red Cross Wednesday to issue an urgent call for eligible donors of all blood types — especially type O — to help save lives.

The shortage follows a difficult Fourth of July week for blood donations, with hundreds fewer blood drives than on a typical week and a resulting decline in donations.

Blood is currently being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in, and all eligible donors are urgently needed to give now to help replenish the blood supply, said Christine Welch, a Pomona-based American Red Cross Blood Services spokeswoman.

The need is especially critical for type O blood donors, according to the Red cross. Type O is the most in-demand blood type and often the first be depleted from hospital shelves during a shortage. Type O negative is the universal blood type and what emergency room personnel reach for when there is no time to determine the blood type of patients in the most serious situations. Type O positive is the most common blood type and can be transfused to Rh-positive patients of any blood type.

“Each and every day, individuals across the country depend on blood and platelet donations for lifesaving treatments and emergency care, so it’s critical that people donate now to meet these needs,” said Cliff Numark, senior vice president, Red Cross Blood Services. “Whether you’ve never donated or give a couple of times a year, you’re needed to give as soon as possible to help save patient lives. Yours may be the donation a patient is counting on.”

The Red Cross has added about 6,500 additional appointment slots at donation centers and community blood drives across the country over the next few weeks to accommodate more donors. Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire are encouraged to help reduce the time it takes to donate.

To schedule an appointment to donate, use the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit or call (800) 733-2767.

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