An emergency blood shortage is prompting the American Red Cross to issue an urgent call for eligible donors of all blood types – especially type O – to give now and help save lives.

The Red Cross escalated its call for blood and platelet donors after a difficult Independence Day week for donations.

More than 550 fewer blood drives were organized by businesses and community groups last week than during a typical week, as individuals across the country celebrated the holiday.

This could equate to as many as 15,000 fewer donations than needed, causing donations to now be distributed to hospitals faster than they come in.

To schedule an appointment to donate, use the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS.