The American Red Cross regional office in St. Paul has issued an emergency appeal for blood donors because of a summer slump in donations.
Nationally, donations were down 10 percent in June, reaching their lowest level since 1997. The Upper Midwest does not face an immediate shortage of blood or plasma, but the Red Cross' North Central Region — Minnesota, eastern South Dakota and western Wisconsin — saw 1,400 fewer donations than expected.
"It's a fine line. The Red Cross is not as low as last year, but we are asking for the public's help now," said Sue Gonsior, spokeswoman for the north central region. "We want to make sure blood is available through the next months."
It's not unusual for blood donations to fall off at the beginning of summer, Gonsior said. College campus blood drives, which account for as much as 20 percent of donations during the school year, wind down every June as students go home for the summer. And with many employees scheduling vacations in July and August, some employers find it difficult to schedule blood drives in the summer.
"We are just trying to be proactive," Gonsior said.
The organization issued an emergency appeal for all blood types, but said O negative, B negative and A negative blood are particularly needed.
In the north central region, the Red Cross needs to collect approximately 800 pints of blood every day to meet the needs of patients and hospitals.
The American Red Cross supplies about 40 percent of the nation's donated blood each year.
For more information about donating blood and how to schedule a donation, go to www.redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-733-2767.