The American Red Cross says it's national blood supply is at its lowest level in 15 years because of severe weather combined with a markedly slow summer of donations.
Summer is typically a time when donations are sluggish because people are away on vacations and schools that host blood drives are closed. Officials say this summer is worse than normal.
Severe storms in early July forced the cancellation of dozens of blood drives. Extreme heat has kept donors indoors and at home. And because July 4th fell in the middle of the week, more employees took extended vacations, and fewer businesses hosted blood drives.
"We just aren't seeing the donors coming through the door right now," says Karen Stecher, communication officer for the Red Cross.
If things don't turn around, doctors may have to cancel elective surgeries if needed blood products aren't readily available.
"In a worst-case scenario, more serious procedures - things like liver transplants that require a lot of blood - will not start until there is enough blood on the shelves," says Richard Benjamin, chief medical officer for the Red Cross. "We need to do everything we can to make sure it doesn't get to that point."
The Red Cross reached emergency levels June 25, with 50,000 fewer donations than expected in June. There are half as many readily available blood products today than at the same time last year.
America's Blood Centers, which collects 50% of the nation's blood, says donations have been tight but not at the same emergency levels as the Red Cross.
Click here to see video and learn more about the need and how to become a donor.
The American Red Cross has a page so that you can find the donation center closest to you. Just enter your zip code on the right side of the page.