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Red Cross blood supplies critically low

The American Red Cross is facing a critical blood shortage and has issued an emergency call for eligible blood and platelet donors of all blood types to give now and help save lives.

Blood donations have fallen short of expectations for the past two months, resulting in about 61,000 fewer donations than needed and causing a significant draw down of the Red Cross blood supply. The shortfall is the equivalent of the Red Cross not collecting any blood donations for more than four days.

"It's crucial that people donate now to meet the needs of patients every day and to be prepared for emergencies that require significant volumes of donated blood," said Nick Gehrig, communications director, Red Cross Blood Services. "Every day, blood and platelet donors can help save lives, and right now these heroes are needed to give as soon as possible."

To schedule an appointment to donate, use the free Blood Donor App, visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). The Red Cross has added more than 25,000 additional appointment slots at donation centers and community blood drives across the country over the next few weeks to accommodate more donors. Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire are encouraged to help reduce the time it takes to donate.

Blood shortages often worsen around Independence Day due to many fewer volunteer-hosted blood drives at places of work, worship or community gathering, and this year is no exception.

Overall, the summer months are among the most challenging time for blood and platelet donations as regular donors delay giving while they vacation and participate in summer activities. In a recent survey of Red Cross blood donors, more than 73 percent indicated vacation plans this summer, many of them occurring the weeks before and after Independence Day.

New donors and those who haven't given in a while are especially encouraged to roll up a sleeve. Nearly a third fewer new blood donors came out to give last summer than during the rest of the year due in part to schools - where blood drives are held and where new donors give - being out of session during the summer months.

The organization offers three easy steps for people to save lives:

1). Schedule - Use the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment.

2). Prepare - Get a good night's sleep, eat a nutritious meal and drink extra fluids.

3). Give - The donation process start to finish takes about an hour. The actual donation only takes about 10 minutes.

Blood donation opportunities through July 25 are as follows:

• Modesto Blood Donation Center, 1900 W. Orangeburg Ave. - Mondays, noon to 7 p.m.; Tuesdays, 12:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Wednesdays, 12:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Thursdays, 10:45 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Fridays, 8:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 7:45 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and Sundays, 7:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

• Racor, 3400 Finch Road - on July 18, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• Health Plan of San Joaquin, 1025 J Street - on July 18, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• Jack's Pizza Cafe, 2001 McHenry Avenue - July 22, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• Turlock Blood Donation Center, 655 E. Hawkeye - Thursdays from 12:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Turlock City Hall, 156 S. Broadway, on July 24, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information.

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver's license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.