FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Arkansas Blood Institute is losing hundreds of O-negative blood units a month due to recent blood bag shortages, a press release announced.

O-negative is the only universal blood type, which means it can be transfused in an emergency to any blood recipient, regardless of blood type.

According to the press release, specialized bags are required to safely draw “double dose units” of blood from larger-sized donors. Without this option, ABI says it is struggling to collect enough O-negative blood, and more donors must be recruited to make up for the lost production.

“This urgent supply chain issue could very quickly impact area hospitals’ transfusions of trauma victims, premature babies, and sickle cell disease patients unless more O-negative donors step up now to donate blood,” ABI says.

“Sufficient O negative donations are a daily requirement for our mission,” said Dr. John Armitage, president, and CEO of Arkansas Blood Institute. “When we don’t have the specialty bags we need to draw our doubly effective donations, we put both emergency and routine response capabilities at risk.”

Armitage adds that the supply chain issues have worsened an already difficult situation as ABI enters the holiday season since donation rates around the holidays are typically lower.

“Sadly, the supply chain foul-ups aren’t likely to get better anytime soon. From the last couple of years, we have all learned that broken manufacturing and delivery pipelines are never good, but in the blood world they aren’t just frustrating, they put lives and patient care at risk,” he continued.

Individuals of age 16 and older are urged to give blood. Appointments can be made by calling 877-340-8777 or visiting arkbi.org. Blood donation typically takes only about an hour, and one donation saves up to three lives.