During Trauma Awareness Month in May, the American Red Cross urges eligible donors to help ensure lifesaving blood is available for patients with traumatic injuries and other serious medical needs by donating blood or platelets.

According to the National Trauma Institute, trauma accounts for approximately 41 million emergency department visits and 2.3 million hospital admissions in the U.S. annually.

“A single car accident victim can need as many as 100 units of blood,” said Nick Gehrig, communications director, Red Cross Blood Services. “In trauma situations, when there’s no time to check a patient’s blood type, emergency personnel reach for type O negative red blood cells and type AB plasma.”

O negative red blood cells and AB plasma can be transfused into any patient, regardless of blood type, making donors with these universal blood types an important part of the Red Cross trauma team. Less than 7 percent of the population has type O negative blood, and only about 4 percent of the population has type AB blood.

Platelets may also be needed to help with clotting in cases of massive bleeding. Because platelets must be transfused within five days of donation, there is a constant – often critical – need to keep up with hospital demand.

“As a trauma surgeon, I know that a readily available blood supply can mean the difference between life and death for patients in the most serious situations,” said Dr. Gregory J. Jurkovich, board chair, National Trauma Institute; fellow, American College of Surgeons; and professor and vice chairman, Department of Surgery, University of California Davis Health. “Blood products can only be provided by generous donors, so I urge you to roll up a sleeve and help save lives.”

The American Red Cross has scheduled blood drives in Kewaunee County from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 19 at Algoma Community Wellness Center, 1715 Division St., and 8 a.m. noon May 20 at St. Louis School Hall, N8710 County Line Road, Dyckesville. Blood and platelet donors of all types are currently needed. Donation appointments can be scheduled by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).