New Jersey hospitals are feeling the strain of a nationwide shortage of the universal blood type.

Medical professionals are putting a call out for donations of Type O blood, as well as platelets, this holiday season.

"The nation’s blood supply is still recovering from the pandemic and lockdown, compounded by the expected drop in blood supply during winter months from bad weather, seasonal illness, holiday fatigue and the limited access to blood drives at schools and business establishments," said Sally Wells, with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. "Engaging our local donors is paramount.”

Blood suppliers are unable to meet the demand from local hospitals, due to an acute nationwide shortage and critically low reserve of Type O blood, according to RWJBarnabas Health. Type O is considered "universal" because people with any blood type can receive it.

Someone in the U.S. needs blood or platelets every two seconds, according to the American Red Cross. Life-saving blood is given to patients who've experienced trauma such as childbirth or a car accident, as well as individuals in cancer care.

Approximately 45% of white individuals are Type O, along with 51% of Black individuals and 57% of Hispanics, according to the American Red Cross.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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