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Staff Photo / Donor Andrew Dickerson, left, talks with training coordinator Brandy Womack on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016, at Blood Assurance. Dickerson, a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga student, came to donate blood after hearing pleas for donations for bus crash victims.

The Chattanooga region's emergency blood supply — particularly Type O — is dangerously low after a summer of decreased donations and high demand from hospitals, according to a news release from local blood supplier Blood Assurance.

As of Wednesday, Blood Assurance had less than a one-day supply of Type O-negative and Type O-positive blood on its shelves, prompting the organization to issue a plea for more donors in order to support life-saving treatments at hospitals across the region.

"With school being out for fall break, paired with high hospital usage, we are experiencing an unprecedented shortage," Dr. Liz Culler, chief medical officer for Blood Assurance, said in the release. "COVID-19 has already depleted the blood supply, so when you add these additional factors in, it's quite alarming."

(READ MORE: Chattanooga-based Blood Assurance in critical need of blood due to multiple traumas)

Individuals with Type O blood who donate at a blood drive or donation center through Oct. 22 will receive a $20 Amazon gift card, the release states.

Potential donors can visit bloodassurance.org/schedule to view a list of all upcoming blood drives and to schedule an appointment. Those who prefer a phone can call 800-962-0628, or text BAGIVE to 999777.

The American Red Cross's Tennessee Region office issued a similar alert this week, stating in a news release that blood and platelet supplies are now at the lowest post-summer level in at least six years.

"Fall is typically a time when the blood supply rebounds from summer blood shortages, but a surge in COVID-19 cases across the U.S. due to the delta variant has contributed to the lowest donor turnout of the year. To shore up inventory, the Red Cross must collect 10,000 additional blood products each week this month to meet hospital and patient needs," the release states.

Appointments can be made by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

(READ MORE: Blood Assurance receives Champions of Health Care community outreach award)

Everyone who donates through the Red Cross in October will receive an emailed link to claim either a free Zaxby's sandwich or get a $5 e-gift card to a merchant of their choice as well as an additional bonus $5 e-gift card to a merchant of their choice, according to the news release.

To be eligible to donate blood, you must be at least 17 years old — or 16 years old with parental consent — weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good health. Donors are asked to drink plenty of fluids — avoiding caffeine — and eat a meal rich in iron before donating.

— Compiled by staff writer Elizabeth Fite

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