The American Red Cross is urging the public to take part in local blood drive events. And while blood donations are always critical, the Red Cross explains that diversity of blood donors is crucial now more than ever. Longtime ARC Volunteer Dennis Stolpner explains why:

All blood types are needed at all times, with special importance set on Type O blood.  Type O, physician Dennis Stolpner explains, is the universal blood type and therefore arguably most essential in an emergency setting.  While that certainly assists the effort tremendously, it simply is not enough.  The nonprofit organization expressed in a recent statement that each individual has different proteins in their bloodstream.  In effect, this means that there are more factors at play in determining the best match, beyond Type categorization.  For example, individuals with sickle cell disease often struggle to find transfusion and donation matches, because this condition primarily afflicts People of Color (African American and Hispanic Americans).  This limits the supply available to these individuals, when transplants or other procedures requiring donations are necessary.  But this can be remedied, Stolpner and ARC explain, if more people from different races, ethnicities and backgrounds consider contributing to a local drive today.