The American Red Cross says its need for blood is at a critical level during the summer.
"It's really an urgent need," said Lizzie Gill of the American Red Cross. "For all types of blood, we're at less than a three-day supply for those types. With both O types, O-positive and O-negative, we're looking at less than a two-day supply."
At the Milwaukee County Zoo, they're holding a two-day blood drive to help. Gill says blood donations take a severe hit during the summer. With more people on vacation and schools out for the summer, the thought to donate doesn't cross people's minds.
"About 20% of the nation's blood supply comes from high schools and colleges," Gill said. "With schools out of session, giving takes a dip. Special event blood drives like this help steady the blood supply for our community."
It can have a significant impact as well. One blood donation saves up to three lives. Last September, a local woman says blood donations saved her life.
MaKenzie Schienbeck nearly died last September due to complications from pregnancy. She woke up early on her birthday and found she was losing blood extremely fast. She was in and out of consciousness, taken to the hospital and felt her life slipping away.
"I would not be alive today if it was not for the American Red Cross and the gracious donors who gave their blood," she said.
Schienbeck received transfusions on the way to the hospital, during emergency surgery and after surgery. Without the blood, she believes she wouldn't be here today.
If this emergency had happened just a month or two earlier, she may not have been so lucky because of the drop in donations during the summer.
The group is holding a blood drive at the Milwaukee County Zoo to try to help with that.
"I would not be alive today if it was not for the American Red Cross and the gracious donors who gave their blood." — MaKenzie Schienbeck
This is the 14th annual Milwaukee County Zoo Blood Drive. More than 1,400 lifesaving donations have been collected since the drive's inception, and they expect more than 300 lifesaving donations to be collected during the drive June 24-25.
Eligible donors with types O, A negative and B negative blood are urged to make a Power Red donation at this blood drive. Power Red donors give a concentrated dose of red blood cells during a single donation, allowing them to maximize their impact. During this type of donation, red blood cells are separated from other blood components, and the plasma and platelets are safely and comfortably returned to the donor.
"Red blood cells carry oxygen into the body," Gill said. "In cases of trauma or a newborn baby, that's what they're giving to patients."
Donations run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 24 and June 25. Donors receive a free lunch, Wisconsin State Fair ticket, free same-day zoo admission, free parking and free childcare, while supplies last. For more information on the Milwaukee County Zoo Blood Drive, please visit The American Red Cross website and sponsor code "MKE ZOO" to sign up.