Written by Natalie Simpson, @byuiscroll

The American Red Cross’s blood supply has dropped to emergency levels, due to severe weather conditions.

Since Jan. 1, over 300 blood drives across more than 20 states have been cancelled due to severe winter weather conditions, causing a loss of more than 9,500 donations, according to the American Red Cross Web site.

“The American Red Cross is calling on all eligible donors to step up, roll up a sleeve and give blood or platelets as soon as possible,” according to the American Red Cross.

This loss in donations is further heightened as the Red Cross blood supply reaches emergency levels with a loss of 50,000 anticipated donations in June, leaving roughly half the amount of readily available blood this year compared to last year, according to the American Red Cross.

“An unseasonably early start to summer weather may be a contributing factor to this year’s decrease in donations,” according to the American Red Cross. “Many regular donors got an early start on summer activities and aren’t taking time to give blood or platelets. In addition, this year’s mid-week Independence Day holiday has reduced the number of scheduled Red Cross blood drives.”

Fewer than four in 10 people in the United States are able to donate blood, yet less than one in 10 donate, according to Blood Source, a blood donation collector located in Sacramento, California. On average, one in every seven people hospitalized need blood, and one blood donation can save up to three lives.

“I think sometimes students don’t donate because they just don’t understand the process, what happens to their blood after they donate, and what kind of an effect it really can have on people,” said Kayla Palmer, a freshman studying exercise physiology. “Students are probably also scared of needles. Also trying to find time to do it in their schedule, I think. I mean, it only takes about half an hour to 45 minutes maybe to donate blood, but some people just are really busy with work and school and can’t find time.”

The Red Cross must collect more than 17,000 pints of blood for patients at more than 3,000 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country every day.

“Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs a blood transfusion,” according to the American Red Cross.

Right now the American Red Cross is in need of all blood types but especially O positive, O negative (the universal blood type), B negative and A negative, according to the American Red Cross.

Donation sites can be found by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visiting redcrossblood.org, according to the American Red Cross.

Feb. 26, Navex Global is holding a blood drive from 11:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 346 Grand Loop Rexburg, ID. April 1, Paul Mitchell hair academy is holding a blood drive from 1:30-6:30 p.m. at 557 Mariah Avenue Rexburg, ID.

“The first time I donated blood I felt really great, but the second time I fainted because I was dehydrated, but they still got the blood from me so that was good,” said Alysa Smith, a freshman studying floral design. “So I still saved lives.”

In order to donate, two forms of identification are required such as a blood donation card or driver’s license. Donors must be 17 years of age (16 in some states with parent permission), be relatively healthy and weigh a minimum of 110 pounds. Donors 18 years of age and younger must also meet specific height and weight requirements, according to the American Red Cross.

“It’s fairly simple to donate blood; I just don’t like needles, so whenever the phlebotomist stuck the needle into my vein I always had to look away. Then after she covered the needle then I was fine to look at it, I just don’t like needles,” Smith said.

The American Red Cross supplies roughly 40 percent of the nation’s blood, provides survival skill instruction, gives international humanitatin aid, offers food, shelter, emotional support to disaster victims and aids military members and their families.

“The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission,” according to a news release found on redcrossblood.org.