After a difficult Fourth of July week for blood and platelet donations and ongoing challenges finding new blood donors, the American Red Cross now faces a blood shortage and has issued an emergency call for eligible individuals of all blood types to give now and prevent delays in medical care.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities in Clinton are Tuesday, July 23, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Wednesday, July 31, 2 to 6 p.m. at Community Reformed Church, 747 N. 12th St.

Approximately 450 fewer blood drives were organized by businesses and other community groups during the July 4 holiday. This led to about 17,000 fewer blood donations than needed for patients in a single week, causing the Red Cross to have less than a three-day supply of most blood types available — and less than a two-day supply of type O blood — for patients.

“Medical emergencies and critical treatments don’t stop for holiday celebrations. Patients depend on lifesaving blood transfusions every day,” said Cliff Numark, senior vice president, Red Cross Blood Services. “Right now, the Red Cross only has less than a three-day supply when we need a five-day supply to be prepared for all situations that require blood products. To help meet this need, we’ve added about 8,000 additional appointments at blood donation centers and community blood drives over the next few weeks to accommodate more donors. But we need people to fill those appointments. Blood is only available when generous blood and platelet donors roll up a sleeve to give, and right now, all donors — especially those who have never given or haven’t given in a while — are urged to make an appointment to give today,” Numark added.

Donors may make appointments using the Blood Donor App, at RedCrossBlood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire are encouraged to help reduce the time it takes to donate.

Those interested in holding a blood drive can learn more and sign up to sponsor a drive this summer by going to RedCrossBlood.org/HostADrive.

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. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.

For more information, go to redcross.org or cruzrojaamerican.org, or go Twitter at @RedCross.