The American Red Cross Monday issued an urgent plea to healthy residents in the Los Angeles area to donate blood for use over the Fourth of July weekend and beyond.

The Red Cross is continuing to experience a severe blood shortage that is negatively affecting blood product availability across the country. Donors of all blood types — especially type O and those giving platelets — are urged to make an appointment to give now and help ensure hospital shelves are stocked with blood products.

“The need for blood doesn’t take a holiday break — patients still depend on life-saving transfusions,” according to the organization.

The Red Cross reported that it is working around the clock to provide blood products to hospitals responding to an unusually high number of traumas and emergency room visits, as well as overdoses and resulting transplants. As a result of the blood shortage, some hospitals are being forced to slow the pace of elective surgeries until the blood supply stabilizes, delaying crucial patient care.

In addition, while summer is traditionally a time when blood donations decline, this year is particularly challenging as many Americans receive their vaccinations and resume summer activities after more than a year of limited interactions and travel, leading to lower donor turnout.

Blood donation opportunities are available across the region through July 15. To schedule an appointment to give blood, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-733-2767 or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

As a thank-you, all those who come to give between Thursday and July 6 will receive a Red Cross embroidered hat by mail, while supplies last. Donors who come to give July 7-31 will receive a $10 Amazon.com gift card by email, plus a chance to win gas for a year.

In most cases, those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine can donate. However, knowing the name of the manufacturer of the vaccine they received is important in determining donation eligibility.

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