Jeff Meyer, CEO of the American Red Cross Northern California Blood Services, said that while the summer months are known to be low blood donation months, the Bay Area has seen an unprecedented low number of donations.
Meyer said the summer months are traditionally slow because 24 percent of the organization's blood donations come from high school and college students, but this year it is even more dire.
"The shortage is hitting us a lot sooner," Meyer said, explaining that when levels dip in Northern California, the blood centers must import blood from around the country.
Meyer said that his organization does not know the cause of the current shortage.
By looking at the supply of O negative blood, the American Red Cross is able to gauge the on-hand supply for a region, Meyer said.
"The O negative inventory is hovering around a one-day supply," Meyer said. "This time last year we were around a little over two days of O negative on hand."
Meyer said the current situation is akin to someone who lives paycheck to paycheck, without funds stored away for a rainy day.
"If any unforeseen events or major tragedy happens there is no reserve," Meyer said.
The American Red Cross provides 30 hospitals in the East Bay and South Bay with blood products and when supplies dip, they urge the public to make donations and work to create additional incentives, such as rewards, to get additional volunteer donors, Meyer said.
Meyer said that that blood banks are in critical need of O positive, O negative, B negative and A negative blood types.
The greatest challenge for the American Red Cross is ensuring that enough blood is available for emergency situations, Meyer said.
"Are you going to have it when you need it? And are you going to be able to get it where you need it?" Meyer asked.
To schedule a blood donation with the American Red Cross, eligible donors can go online at redcrossblood.org to make a donation appointment.