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

Blood donations have fallen short of expectations for the past two months, according to an announcement by the Red Cross, 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 Bernadette Jay, external communications manager of the Mid-Atlantic and Appalachian Blood Services Regions. “Every day, blood and platelet donors can help save lives, and right now these heroes are needed to give as soon as possible.”

The Red Cross Bloodmobile will be at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Daleville on Saturday, July 22 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

It will be at Bonsack Baptist Church, 4845 Cloverdale Road, on Tuesday, July 25 from 2-7 p.m.

Those traveling into Roanoke can also donate at the Roanoke Valley Blood Donation Center, 352 Church Ave. SW on January 19 from 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

To schedule an appointment to donate, download the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire are encouraged to avoid longer wait times. Donors with all blood types are needed.

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. Nearly 700 fewer blood drives were scheduled during the Independence Day week than the weeks before and after the holiday.

Overall, the summer months are among the most challenging times of the year 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 and help save lives. Nearly one-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.

Every two seconds in the United States blood and platelets are needed to respond to patient emergencies, including accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant procedures, and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease. The Red Cross must collect nearly 14,000 blood donations every day for patients at approximately 2,600 hospitals across the country.