American Red Cross issues emergency call for donations

Image 1 of 3

The American Red Cross is facing a critical blood shortage and has issued an emergency call for donations.

The Red Cross says the current shortfall - about 61,000 fewer donations than needed - is the equivalent of not collecting any blood donations for more than four days. 

The summer months usually lead to a blood donation shortage. High schools and college blood drives account for as much as 20 percent of donations during the school year, and fewer blood drives take place during the 4th of July holiday week. 

Hundreds of donations a day are needed to supply a local hospital. 

If you've never given blood before, here's a few things to note. Most of the blood donation process is just laying down and letting your body work. Once the needle goes in and the blood starts flowing, the pint fills up in about a half hour. This one pint of blood can save up to three lives. 

The pint is separated into three different components: red cells, platelets and plasma. That's how it's able to save multiple people. 

A wide variety of hospital patients could typically need blood at any moment, from car accident victims to mothers in labor to cancer patients. 

If you'd like to make an appointment to donate, visit or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.