An emergency blood shortage is prompting the American Red Cross to issue an urgent call for eligible donors of all blood types — especially type O — to give now and help save lives.

The Red Cross escalated its call for blood and platelet donors after a difficult Independence Day week for donations. More than 550 fewer blood drives were organized by businesses and other community groups last week than during a typical week as individuals across the country celebrated the holiday and enjoyed summer activities.

This could equate to as many as 15,000 fewer donations than needed, causing donations to now be distributed to hospitals faster than they come in.

"Each and every day, individuals across the country depend on blood and platelet donations for lifesaving treatments and emergency care, so it’s critical that people donate now to meet these needs," said Cliff Numark, senior vice president, Red Cross Blood Services. "Whether you’ve never donated or give a couple of times a year, you’re needed to give as soon as possible to help save patient lives. Yours may be the donation a patient is counting on."

The Red Cross provides donated blood to 41 hospitals across Central Ohio and needs an average of 550 blood donations each day to support patient care in 27 counties around Columbus.

This need is especially critical for type O blood donors. Type O is the most in-demand blood type and often the first be depleted from hospital shelves during a shortage.

Type O negative is the universal blood type and what emergency room personnel reach for when there is no time to determine the blood type of patients in the most serious situations. Type O positive is the most common blood type and can be transfused to Rh-positive patients of any blood type.

To schedule an appointment to donate, use the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). The Red Cross has added about 6,500 additional appointment slots at donation centers and community blood drives across the country over the next few weeks to accommodate more donors.

Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire are encouraged to help reduce the time it takes to donate.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities through July 31:

Coshocton County

• July 19 — Warsaw Camp and Retreat Center, 818 Main Street, Warsaw, 1 to 7 p.m.

• July 31 — Annin & Company, 700 S. Third Street, Coshocton, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Guernsey County

• July 13 — Guernsey County Senior Center, 1022 Carlisle Ave., Cambridge, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• July 13 — Birmingham Methodist Church, 74091 Birmingham Road, Kimbolton, 1 to 7 p.m.

• July 31 — Buffalo Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 302 Main Street, Cumberland, 1:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Harrison County

• July 25 — Scott Memorial United Methodists Church, 817 E. Market Street, Cadiz, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Morgan County

• July 25 — Stockport United Methodist Church, 3455 Market Street, Stockport, 1 to 7 p.m.

Muskingum County

• July 11 — Dresden UMC, 1014 Main Street, Dresden, 12 to 6 p.m.

• July 11 — East 40 Church of Christ, 7522 E. Pike Road, Norwich, 12 to 6 p.m.

• July 14 — Unity Church of the Nazarene, 3095 Maysville Pike, Zanesville, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

• July 16 — Trinity United Presbyterian Church, 830 Military Road, Zanesville, 1 to 7 p.m.

• July 20 — Colony Square Mall, 3575 Maple Ave., Zanesville, 2 to 8 p.m.

• July 21 — South Zanesville UMC, 53 E. Main Street, Zanesville, 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

• July 23 — Century National Bank Lending Center, 505 Market St., Zanesville, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• July 28 — North Terrace Church of Christ, 1420 Brandywine Blvd., Zanesville, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• July 30 — Trinity United Presbyterian Church, 830 Military Road, Zanesville, 1 to 7 p.m.

• July 31 — New Concord Church of Christ, 13333 Maple Lane, New Concord, 1 to 6 p.m.

• July 31 — Zanesville High School, 1701 Blue Avenue, Zanesville, 12 to 6 p.m.

Tuscarawas County

• July 11 — St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 121 S. College Street, Newcomerstown, 12 to 6 p.m.

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families.