WASHINGTON, July 22 (UPI) -- Fearing a likely blood shortage, The American Red Cross is putting out a nationwide plea urging donors to give blood to offset dips in donation.
Because the Fourth of July fell on a Friday, more Americans than usual enjoyed long vacations and recreational weekends. This, according to the Red Cross, led to an unexpected drop in donations.
"Many sponsors did not host drives because people took vacations either over the long weekend or for the entire week," The American Red Cross said in a statement.
"In an average summer week, about 4,400 Red Cross blood drives are scheduled, compared to Independence Day week when only 3,450 drives occurred."
All told, blood donations are down roughly 8 percent over the last 11 weeks, totaling 80,000 fewer donations than expected. The drop in donors has affected more than blood supply, as platelet donors are in equally high demand
"Platelet donors and blood donors of all types, especially those with type O negative, B negative and A negative, are encouraged to give now," Red Cross spokeswoman Sara O'Brien pleaded in a statement.
"Summer can be among the most challenging times of the year to collect enough blood and platelet donations -- yet the need for blood doesn't take a summer break."