The American Red Cross is facing a blood donation shortage serious enough that some people may have to cancel elective surgeries. Donations are at their lowest in 15 years. In June, the organization came up 50,000 units short. July isn't looking good, either—a particular problem given the increased number of accidents typical in the summer, when people travel, a rep tells NBC News.
Storms in the eastern and midwestern US both increased demand and cut supply, as the Red Cross was forced to cancel drives. With students, who account for 20% of donations, donating far less in the summer, the problem is compounded. "We normally try to keep a three-day supply on hand locally, and we are down to a one-day supply," warns an Ohio Red Cross worker. And "the need never, ever goes away," notes another representative. (Read more blood donor stories.)