The American Red Cross is facing a blood shortage, leading to an urgent need for donors of all blood types to roll up a sleeve and give.

Donations through the Red Cross are down about 8 percent over the last 11 weeks, resulting in about 80,000 fewer donations than expected.

The number of donors continues to decline, and the shortfall is significant enough that the Red Cross could experience an emergency situation in the coming weeks.

Eligible donors with types O negative, B negative and A negative blood are especially needed at this time. Type O negative is the universal blood type and can be transfused to anyone who needs blood. Types A negative and B negative can be transfused to Rh positive or negative patients.

The summer can be among the most challenging times of the year for blood and platelet donations as regular donors delay giving while they take vacations and participate in summer activities.

July 13 marked the half-way point for the Red Cross campaign "100 Days of Summer. 100 Days of Hope." Individuals who donated blood earlier this summer may now be eligible to donate again and help patients such as accident victims, heart surgery patients and children with blood disorders.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities in the Madison area:

Today: noon to 4 p.m. at the Jefferson County Public Library, 420 W. Main St.

July 30: noon to 5 p.m. at King's Daughters' Hospital & Health Services.

Call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit to make an appointment or for more information. A blood donor card or driver's license, or two other forms of identification are required at check-in.

Do your part to help ease this critical need. You never know when you or a loved one might depend on the generosity of others.