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Red Cross in urgent need of blood donations as Type O supply hits dangerously low levels

They're even giving out gift cards as an incentive.

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If you have Type O blood, the Red Cross really needs your help. The organization is facing a nationwide shortage of the blood type and is asking people to come in, donate, and cover the gap.

A Tuesday news release, the Red Cross explained that currently there are just six units of Type O blood available for every 100,000 people, which is about half what is needed to ensure a steady, reliable supply for emergency situations. Type O is especially valuable because of its versatility and compatibility with other blood types.

"Type O blood is the most needed blood type in the hospital, but the Red Cross is currently facing a shortage of this important blood type across the country," Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer for Red Cross Biomedical Services, said in the news release.

"Type O-negative is the universal blood type and is what emergency room personnel reach for in the most serious situations when there is not time to determine a patient's blood type," Young continued, "and Type-O positive blood can be transfused to any positive blood type patient and is also critical in trauma situations."

In a video for the American Red Cross, Vanderbilt Medical Director Dr. Jennifer Andrews explained how that need plays out in real-world, emergency room scenarios: "Oftentimes trauma victims are brought to our hospital in extremes, dying of their injuries, and we don't have enough time to get their blood type. So very commonly, we'll give them O-negative blood because that's compatible with every blood type."

Andrews also noted that because the needs of trauma treatment are inherently unpredictable "we always need to be ready" by maintaining a dependable blood supply.

The Red Cross is even offering an incentive for people who show up to help fill their current need. People who give blood between now and June 10 will receive a $5 Amazon gift card by mail.

Blood donors who want to help out can schedule a donation appointment by using the Red Cross' Blood Donor App, by visiting their website, or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.

The news release also said that people can open the Red Cross Blood skill on an Alexa-enabled device via commands like saying, "Alexa, open Red Cross Blood Skill" and, "Alexa, find a blood drive."

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