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Red Cross Blood Donation Shortage: Organization Says Supply Is At Emergency Levels

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Blood donations are down and are urgently needed, the Red Cross reported today.

The organization is on par to be 50,000 donations short of the expected number this month. CBS News reported that that is about half of what was available last year at this same time.

"There is always the chance that a physician could postpone an elective surgery if the needed blood products aren't readily available," Dr. Richard Benjamin, chief medical officer for the American Red Cross, said in a statement on the organization's website. "In a worst case scenario, a physician may have to forego performing a more serious procedure for a patient because of a shortage of blood. We need to do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t get to that point."

ABC News reported that the organization is especially in need of O-type blood, since it can be transfused into people of any blood type. However, other greatly needed types include A negative, B negative and O positive, according to ABC News.

The Red Cross reported that donations may be low right now because early summer weather may mean people are also starting their summer activities early -- thereby not taking the time to donate blood. And the fact that the Fourth of July is in the middle of the week this year may mean companies are giving employees extended holidays, and therefore not having as many blood drives.

The Red Cross typically collects upward of 17,000 pints of blood each day, the organization reported. Each pint is usually able to save more than one person.

But earlier this year, 35 gallons were what was needed for a San Antonio mom. Gina Walker's life was saved from the blood transfusion, after hemorrhaging while giving birth to her daughter.

For more information on donating blood, click here or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.

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