While many government offices are closed today, LifeServe is open and holding blood drives at several Iowa locations on this Martin Luther King Junior holiday as blood supplies are getting dangerously low.

Danielle West, spokeswoman for the Des Moines-based LifeServe, says December and January are typically the worst months of the year for donations as so many people are on vacation, traveling or the weather’s bad.

“We want to remind people how important it is to give blood because the need at hospitals is still the same no matter how many donors are coming out,” West says. “We’re definitely seeing our blood supply go lower and lower than we’d like it to be so we’re reminding people to come out and donate if they can.” While donations are needed of all blood types, West says a few types in particular are more urgently sought.

“O-negative is the universal blood type so anyone can receive O-negative, and O-positive is the universal positive blood type,” West says. “Those are usually the most critical but really all of our blood types are lower right now than we’d like them to be.” Donating a single pint of blood may help save the lives of as many as three hospital patients. Iowans shouldn’t be too concerned about the amount of time they’ll have to commit to donating a pint.

“You can be in and out in 45 minutes to an hour and that’s from start to finish,” West says. “Really, the donation process where you’re actually on the chair is five to ten minutes total. You start with registration, we do a short questionaire, a mini-physical, you’re in the chair for five to ten minutes and then we have snacks and goodies at the end of every donation.”

LifeServe has offices in Ames, Des Moines, Fort Dodge, Mason City, Marshalltown and Sioux City, and serves hospitals across Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

“We partner with around 120 hospitals which means we are their sole provider and they only get blood products from LifeServe,” West says. “If we don’t have what we need on our shelves to support them, we have to go find it elsewhere, which is not what we like to do or where we’d like to be.”

To schedule an appointment, call 800-287-4903 or visit www.lifeservebloodcenter.org.