Following 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.

About 450 fewer blood drives were organized by businesses and other community groups last week than during a typical week as people across the country celebrated the holiday with activities and travel. This led to about 17,000 fewer blood donations than needed for patients in a single week, causing the Red Cross to now 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. At least a five-day supply is desired.

“Medical emergencies and critical treatments don’t stop for holiday celebrations. Patients depend on lifesaving blood transfusions every day,” said Bernadette Jay, external communications manager, Mid-Atlantic & Appalachian Blood Services Regions. “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, please join us today.”

A blood drive in South Boston is planned from 2 to 6 p.m. July 26 at American Legion Post 8, 1710 Jeffress Blvd.

In June, through the Missing Types Campaign, the Red Cross encouraged donors — especially new donors and those who have not donated in the past years — to give blood or platelets during the challenging summer months. Blood donations still fell short of expectations in June, resulting in more than 24,000 fewer donations than needed — 430 fewer in the Appalachian Blood Services Region and nearly 1,500 fewer donations in the Mid-Atlantic Blood Services Region, causing a significant draw down of the Red Cross blood supply.