CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — The American Red Cross is facing another blood shortage after a summer of both natural disasters and donation shortfalls.

The organization said in a press release there was a critical, 30,000-donation shortfall in the month of August after back-to-school activities and one of the busiest summer travel seasons on record. That was compounded by the effects of Hurricane Idalia in the southeastern U.S., which forced the cancellation of over a dozen blood drives and caused more than 700 units of blood and platelets to go uncollected.

As a result, the national blood supply has fallen nearly 25% since August. Blood product distributions is outpacing the number of blood donations, and this threatens the medical care patients who have either an emergency need for blood or a critical condition such as cancer and sickle cell disease.

“For so many patients living with urgent medical care needs, crises don’t stop with natural disasters,” said Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer for the American Red Cross. “In fact, in some instances the stress of a disaster can lead to a medical crisis for some individuals battling sickle cell disease. The need for blood is constant. Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood – an often-invisible emergency that the rest of the world doesn’t see behind closed hospital doors. Now, that urgency has only heightened.”

Donations of all blood types are urgently needed, especially type O blood. People willing to donate can schedule an appointment by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting the Red Cross’ website or calling 1-800-733-2767.

The Red Cross also provided a list of blood drives that will be held in Central Illinois through the remainder of September:

  • Urbana
    • Sept. 15 and 28 at the Illini Union (1401 West Green Street) from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Watseka
    • Sept. 15 at American legion Post 23 (968 South 4th Street) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
    • Sept. 29 at the Arc of Iroquois County (700 East Elm Street) from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Dwight
    • Sept. 12 at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church (114 West Mazon Avenue) from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m.
  • Fairbury
    • Sept. 27 at First United Methodist Church (200 East Maple Street from 11:30 a.m. to 5: 30 p.m.
  • Pontiac
    • Sept. 27 at Pontiac Township Senior Community Center (601 North Ladd Street) from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Lincoln
    • Sept. 12 at St John United Church of Christ (204 Seventh Street) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Anyone who donates before Sept. 18 will receive a limited-edition Red Cross t-shirt while supplies last. Donations before Sept. 30 will also be rewarded with a coupon for a free haircut at Sports Clips Haircuts and entry in a contest for a VIP NASCAR racing experience.