NEW YORK -- Blood supplies have dropped to dangerously low levels around the country, with experts blaming a flu outbreak that hit harder and earlier than usual for keeping potential donors away.
The New York Blood Center issued an emergency appeal for donations Monday, just a week after the American Red Cross made a similar request.
''This really goes from Boston to L.A. and hits the heartland,'' said Jacquelyn Fredrick, chief operating officer for the American Red Cross blood services.
Twenty-five of the 37 regional blood centers run by the national Red Cross had less than one day's supply of Type O blood -- known as the universal donor type -- on hand a week after the organization issued an emergency appeal, Fredrick said. Among the most severely affected areas are Los Angeles; Philadelphia; Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; Detroit; Nashville, Tenn., and Columbia, S.C.
The shortage highlights a widening gap between blood supply and demand.
''Usage is growing as fast as we can collect more blood because of the aging population and more advanced medical treatments like transplants,'' Fredrick said. ''The blood supply in this country is very fragile. Even in the best of times, we're probably only a day away from a blood shortage.''
Donors can call the American Red Cross at 1-800-GIVE-LIFE to schedule an appointment.
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