The American Red Cross Southeastern Michigan Blood Services Region is issuing an urgent appeal for blood donors. Recent extraordinary patient needs and consistent low donor turnout this month have caused the local blood supply to drop to critically low levels.

Today started out with six of the eight blood types below the minimum inventory standard required to meet the needs at the 45 local medical facilities served with blood products. Of greatest concern is the less than one-day supply in four types, including O-positive, O-negative, A-negative and B-negative.

"I'm sorry to say we are now unable to meet hospitals' requests for most of the blood types," said Diane Ward, Southeastern Michigan CEO. "We have seriously struggled in recent weeks, trying to keep our supplies at more manageable levels. Our minimum inventory standard is a three-day supply with anything less a serious cause for concern. But now we are actually down to less than a day's supply in four of the eight types."

The local Red Cross is working with hospitals to carefully manage the very limited local red blood cell inventory, moving blood products on hospital shelves to where they are most needed. Low inventories across the country prevent other Red Cross regions from providing assistance.

An increase in the need for blood to treat recent trauma patients has drained the local supply. "We desperately need help," Ward said. "At this point, we're concerned about meeting routine needs. We are not adequately positioned to support an extraordinary need that can occur at any time."

"We urge people to please donate blood immediately, particularly if you are type O-negative or O-positive."

About 38% of the population is eligible to give blood, and of those, only a small percentage actually donate. The Red Cross is hoping that more of those who are eligible to give blood will do so. Donations of all blood types are needed immediately. Blood transfusions are used for trauma victims, heart surgery, organ transplants, women suffering from complications during childbirth, and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or other diseases. If not for the commitment of volunteer blood donors, the lives of these patients would be in jeopardy.

American Red Cross