The American Red Cross has a severe shortage of Type O blood and urges Type O donors – as well as eligible blood and platelet donors of all types – to give now to ensure lifesaving patient care isn’t impacted this winter.

Type O blood is the most in-demand blood type, helping patients facing life-threatening conditions and emergencies every day. Type O negative blood can be transfused to patients with any blood type, and it is what emergency room personnel reach for when there’s no time to determine a patient’s blood type. Type O positive blood is also especially needed, because it is the most transfused blood type and can be given to Rh-positive patients of any type.

Having a readily available blood supply is critical for patients like Luna Giles, who at the age of one-and-a-half has already had two heart surgeries and has required more than a dozen transfusions.

“Each time, the nurse would bring in a bag of blood for her transfusion, I noticed a small label on each one that said ‘Donation Type: Volunteer,’” said Luna’s mom, Jessie Giles. “It made me think about each individual who donated blood for my daughter. I would never know who those individuals were, and they would never see the effect their donation had. But each of those individuals, strangers to us, absolutely saved my daughter’s life. They may never know it, but to me, they are heroes."

Right now, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of most blood types, and blood products are being distributed to hospitals faster than the donations are coming in.

Recent snowstorms and severe weather in many parts of the country have forced hundreds of blood drive cancellations, causing more than 20,000 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected.

Individuals of all blood types – especially Type O – are asked to make an appointment to donate blood. Learn more at the American Red Cross Web site at RedCrossBlood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

What follows is a list of the upcoming blood drives being held in Redwood and Renville counties:

• In Morton – March 14 from 12-6 p.m. at The Dacotah Exposition Center at Jackpot Junction Casino Hotel

• In Hector – March 18 from 1-7 p.m. at First Lutheran Church

• In Lamberton – March 22 from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. at Red Rock Central High School

• In Olivia – March 25 from 12-6 p.m. at St Aloysius Catholic Church

• In Fairfax – March 26 from 12:30-6:30 p.m at Prairie Lutheran School

• In Renville – March 27 from 1-7 p.m. at the community center

• In Milroy – March 28 from 2-7 p.m. at Milroy School

– Photo courtesy of the American Red Cross