SAN DIEGO — The American Red Cross is putting out an emergency plea for everyone to roll up their sleeves and donate blood.

O-positive is the universal blood type that most of us can use in an emergency. Platelets are used for a variety of lifesaving treatments, particularly for cancer patients.

“We have an urgent need for all blood types right now, and we have an emergency need for both O-positive and O-negative and blood platelets,” said Dana Simmons, the communications manager for the Red Cross.

“We’ve seen a 25% decrease of donations since the beginning of August and August alone we saw a shortfall of 30,000 donations,” Simmons explained.

End of summer vacation, back to school obligations and an already busy hurricane season are just some of the factors leading to the critically low national blood supply.

What this could mean for example is the 10 hospitals here in San Diego serviced by the Red Cross may come up short in order to help out another region when disaster strikes.

“Experts are predicting a busy fall disaster season,” said Simmons. “Right now, it’s more important than ever for people to go out and donate right now.” 

When Hurricane Idalia hit the Southeast last month, it brought widespread power outages, travel hazards and flooding that forced the cancellation of dozens of regularly scheduled blood drive.

“Right now, our distribution to hospitals are actually outpacing the number of donations coming in,” said Simmons.

“I like to help and with my blood O-positive — it’s the one that’s more commonly used, so whenever they send out the ‘bat signal,’ I’ll come on down,” said Quiana Hill, who’s been donating consistently for more than 20 years.

She says she just wants to give back. “It’s relatively painless and you’re doing it for a good cause and it’s the easiest thing to do,” said Hill.

If you donate from now until Sept. 18, you can get a retro t-shirt and/or a gift certificate for a free haircut from Sports Clips.