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Nonprofit Blood Assurance is asking for blood donations from community members as soon as possible, citing a system outage that prevented the organization from processing blood or contacting donors.

"We are experiencing a seriously critical need at this time and are asking our communities for help," Dr. Elizabeth Culler, medical director at Blood Assurance, said in a news release.

"We were already experiencing an urgent need for donations and this system outage prevented us from being able to contact the donors we needed or process any of the blood we collected on Friday, Saturday and Sunday."

Blood donors must be at least 18 years old (16 or 17 years old with parental consent), weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good health. Donors are asked to drink plenty of fluids, avoid caffeine and eat a meal rich in iron before donating, the release states.

Each donation can save up to three lives, according to the organization.

Appointments are not required, but can be scheduled by visiting  www.bloodassurance.org, calling 800-962-0628 or texting 'BAGIVE' to 444999.

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