The American Red Cross has extended its urgent call for donors of all blood types to give blood or platelets.

With influenza escalating across the country and preventing some donors from giving, and winter weather threatening to cancel blood drives, the Red Cross now has a critical shortage of type O blood and urgently needs donors to restock the shelves.

The Redwood Valley High School student council is hosting a blood drive this Friday (Jan. 31) from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Redwood Area Community Center in Redwood Falls.

Currently, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of type O blood available for patient emergencies and medical treatments. Type O positive blood is the most transfused blood type and can be given to Rh-positive patients of any blood type.

While just 7 percent of the U.S. population has type O negative blood, it can be transfused to patients with any blood type and is what hospital staff reach for during emergencies when there isn’t time to determine a patient’s blood type.

Every day, the Red Cross must collect nearly 13,000 blood donations and more than 2,600 platelet donations for patients who rely on blood to survive. Shortfalls in donations can cause delays in essential medical care.

Donors of all blood types – especially types O positive and O negative – are urged to make an appointment to give blood.

Learn more on the Red Cross Web site at redcrossblood.org, or call 1-800-733-2767.

- Photo courtesy of the American Red Cross Web site