The American Red Cross said there is an emergency need for more donations of all blood types to fix a blood shortage in the D.C. area.
According to a press release from the Red Cross, blood donations in the area are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in, in part due to a decrease in drives and donations the week of Independence Day, as people went on vacation.
If more blood is not donated, there could be delays in emergency medical care that would affect literal life-or-death situations.
"Each day, kids battling cancer, accident victims being raced to the emergency room and mothers experiencing complicated childbirths rely on lifesaving blood," Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer of the American Red Cross, said in the press release. "We need the public's help today to ensure we have enough blood to meet these dire needs."
The Red Cross is asking for donations from people will all blood types, but especially from O negative and O positive donors.
Type O negative blood can be accepted by people with any blood type, and is considered the "universal blood type." It is used whenever the situation is too urgent to determine the blood type of the patient.
Type O positive is the most common blood type, and can be donated to anyone with any kind of positive blood type (A positive, B positive, AB positive and O positive).
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In an interview with WTOP, Regina E. Braton of the American Red Cross said there is less than a two-day supply of blood on hand.
"This is a very serious situation," Braton said. "And when I say serious, I cannot stress that enough.
According to WTOP, Inova Blood Donor Services — the other supplier serving the D.C. Metro area — is also experiencing dire shortages.
Eligible donors must be 17 years old in Virginia, Maryland and D.C., although Virginia and Maryland allow 16-year-olds to donate with parental consent. Donors must also weigh at least 110 pounds and generally be in good health.