Blood donations picked up slightly in Iowa this month after the American Red Cross issued an emergency appeal.

Samantha Pollard, at the agency’s Omaha-Council Bluffs office, says that plea brought more donors, but there’s still a desperate need for blood.

“Thanks to people responding to our call, a lot of people made appointments, which is great,” Pollard says. “We’ve downgraded it to a ‘critical’ need, which is, we just have a little bit more blood on the shelves than we need to but it’s still going out as quickly as it’s coming in.” Donating takes about 45 minutes to an hour and giving a single pint of blood may help save the lives of as many as three hospital patients. All blood types are welcome.

“We are still at a point where we have less than a five-day supply of blood on the shelves,” Pollard says. “If there were to be a big emergency situation, say there was a hurricane on the East Coast and all blood drives weren’t able to collect blood, we would be in trouble because we don’t have the blood on the shelves to cover for that.” Donors are being lured in with some incentives.

“Between now and August 31st, anybody who comes in and donates blood or platelets will get a $5 Target gift card by email,” Pollard says. “It’s just something we can use to say thanks to people for coming out during our time of really critical need.” Appointments to donate blood can be made by logging on to, by calling 800-Red-Cross or by downloading the Red Cross Blood app.