Officials with the American Red Cross say they’re facing a “severe blood shortage” in Iowa and they’re urgently asking for blood donors to come forward.

Spokeswoman Laura McGuire says they’re also looking for people to step forward and host blood drives to help prevent the shortage from worsening as winter approaches. “The blood products are going out to hospital patients faster than they’re coming in the door,” McGuire says. “Obviously, we never want to be in a position to tell somebody we do not have blood. We strive to have a five-day blood supply on hand and I hate to say it, but right now, we are at a three-day supply.”

All blood types are needed, but a few types are in critically short supply. “What we’re really trying to put the message out there for is type O-negative and O-positive blood,” McGuire says. “O-negative is the universal blood type and O-positive can be transfused into anyone with a positive antibody.” Donating blood takes about an hour of your time and each pint has the potential to save three lives.

“I would recommend going to and you’ll be able to find eligibility requirements,” McGuire says. “There’s also an option called Rapid Pass that will get you through the system a little bit quicker. It answers some of our initial screening questions before you actually come to donate blood.”

You can also call 1-800-RED CROSS to find your nearest donation location. McGuire says it’s a time to give thanks for family, friends and good health and “it’s important to remember patients across the country cannot survive without your generosity.”