The American Red Cross has extended its urgent call for donors of all blood types to give blood.

With influenza escalating across the country and preventing some donors from giving, and winter weather threatening to cancel blood drives, the Red Cross now has a critical shortage of type O blood and urgently needs donors to restock the shelves, a news release stated.

Currently, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of type O blood available for patient emergencies and medical treatments. Type O positive blood is the most transfused blood type and can be given to Rh-positive patients of any blood type. While just 7% of the U.S. population has type O negative blood, it can be transfused to patients with any blood type and is what hospital staff reach for during emergencies when there isn’t time to determine a patient’s blood type.

Every day, the Red Cross must collect nearly 13,000 blood donations and more than 2,600 platelet donations for patients who rely on blood to survive.

Donors of all blood types — especially types O positive and O negative — are urged to make an appointment to give blood now using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 800-733-2767 or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities

  • Little Falls: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 30, Camp Ripley Armory, 15000 Highway 115.

  • Baxter: noon to 5 p.m. Feb. 7, Lord of Life Lutheran Church, 6190 Fairview Road.

  • Brainerd: 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Feb. 11, Central Lakes College, 501 West College Drive; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 11, Brainerd VFW 1647, 309 S. Sixth St.

  • Pequot Lakes: noon to 6 p.m. Feb. 12, American Legion, 4435 Main St.

  • Palisade: noon to 6 p.m. Feb. 13, Palisade Assembly of God Church, 209 Third St. N.

  • Crosby: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 13 and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 14, Cuyuna Regional Medical Center, 320 E. Main.

How to donate blood

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years old and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.