The American Red Cross has issued an emergency call for blood and platelet donations during a severe winter blood shortage. Your donations can help save the lives of people you know in your community – even you or a family member.

Hectic holiday schedules for many regular blood donors contributed to about 37,000 fewer donations in November and December than what was needed, according to the American Red Cross’ regional Arkansas and Oklahoma office. Snowstorms and severe weather have caused nearly 100 blood drives to be cancelled in December.

“Blood and platelet donations are critically needed in the coming days so that patients can continue to receive the lifesaving treatments they are counting on,” says Nick Gehrig, communications director, Red Cross Blood Services. “We encourage donors to invite a family member or friend to donate with them to help meet patient needs. Right now, blood donations are being distributed to hospitals faster than they are coming in.”

How to help
Find a blood donation opportunity and schedule an appointment to donate by using the free Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). The Red Cross is extending hours at many donation sites for more donors to give blood or platelets. Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire are encouraged to help speed up the donation process.

“In about an hour, you can help save someone’s life. This simple act can have a profound impact on another human being,” Gehrig says.

Who will you help?
Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. Accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease may all require blood to save their lives.

Cooper Barghols was an active 9-year-old who enjoyed playing all sports when he was diagnosed with leukemia. He received more than 70 transfusions of blood and blood products. Now 18-years-old and just completing his first semester of college, Barghols and his family are grateful to the doctors, nurses and blood donors that helped make him a survivor.

“My family and I are so very thankful to all those who took time out of their lives to donate the blood that my son received,” says his father and Arkansas-Oklahoma American Red Cross CEO, Bradley Barghols. “I’m at the Red Cross in part to pay it forward for my son. Start your new year paying it forward for another patient.”

There’s a donation site near you. Call today – 1-800-733-2767 – to get an appointment to become a life-giving blood donor.