PORTLAND -- The American Red Cross issued and emergency call for donors Monday, after the nation's blood supply reached seriously low levels.
"In the month of June, we're down about 50,000 donations compared to this time last year," said Daphne Mathew, of the American Red Cross Pacific Northwest Blood Services Region.
Mathew attributed the deficit to a number of factors, including early summer weather across parts of the country taht was taking regular donors away from home. Colleges and high schools are also out, and students typically make up 20 percent of donations, Mathew said.
"We're just hoping any type of blood donor will come out and make a difference," said Mathew.
It's a call to action Tamara Lewis has answered dozens of times. On Tuesday, she donated her 96th pint of blood.
"[Donating blood] sounds like a scary thing to go through, but it really isn't," said Lewis. "It's a very easy thing to do and it can make such a difference in people's lives."
Mathew said each pint of blood can help up to three people. The red cells may go to a trauma victim. The platelets may be given to a cancer patient. The plasma may help someone who suffered a burn.
"Anything can happen at any time, and it's our responsibility to make sure the blood is on the shelf when and where it's needed," said Mathew.
According to the Red Cross, approximately 60 percent of the general population is eligible to give blood, but only 5 percent do.
Those interested in donating blood can call 1-800 RED CROSS to make an appointment, or click on the Red Cross Website for more information.