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Red Cross Faces Critical Blood Shortage As Summer Approaches

Blood donor squeezing stress ball
Jose F. Moreno
The American Red Cross says type O blood has reached critically low levels in the United States.

The American Red Cross is reporting a critical shortage of type O blood. The agency said it has less than a two-day supply for emergency rooms.David Laube, board member for the Red Cross Central and Southern Illinois chapter, said demand for blood typically rises during the summer, while natural disasters have limited the supply.

David Laube
Credit Eric Stock / WGLT
Board member for the Red Cross Central and Southern Illinois chapter David Laube has given nearly 23 gallons of blood in his lifetime.

“For example, the American Red Cross is dealing with a lot of flooding problems where a lot of our donation centers around the U.S. have been flooded out or destroyed,” Laube said. “You’ve got tornados, you’ve got hurricanes, all those kinds of things that will affect the need for blood, car accidents, accidental shootings, all that stuff.”

Laube explained why the Red Cross is constantly trying to hammer home the message that blood is in great demand.

“Surprisingly, the No.1 reason is people said they just hadn’t thought about it. The research shows that’s what people tell us,” Laube said.

Laube, a Bloomington financial advisor, said he has given nearly 23 gallons of blood over his lifetime.

He said it's critical that those who can give blood do so, since nearly 4 in 10 are not eligible to give for health reasons. According to Red Cross data, only 10 percent of those eligible to donate blood actually do.

Laube said he gives blood as often as he can because he sees the good it does, noting that one donation can help three people.

"It's the right thing to do to help other people. It doesn't cost you anything except a little time, and it's what I call a psychic paycheck, a psychological feel-good thing to help other people," he said. 

The Red Cross is offering $5 Amazon gift cards to anyone who donates blood or platelets before June 10.

The Red Cross has more information about blood donation and a blood drive schedule at redcrossblood.org. The Red Cross also offers a way to find out where your blood donation goes on its blood donor app.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.