BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Blood centers across the nation are experiencing their worst blood shortage in over a decade.

LewisGale Hospital’s Director of Laboratory Services Julie McCoy says, as of right now, they are not limiting non-essential surgeries.

“Luckily, right now we have enough to take care of our critical needs. We don’t want to get any lower,” said McCoy.

McCoy says blood is used mostly for cancer and trauma patients. The amount of blood hospitals use is dependent upon on what they use it for.

LewisGale blood lab. (Photo: Courtesy LewisGale)

Traditionally, O positive and O negative blood types are universal donors. However, at this time, the Red Cross and hospitals are in need of all types.

“We can give what is called type-specific blood. If you are A and you know you are A, then we will give you that rather than using our O negative supply,” said McCoy.

She adds the important thing is trying to make sure the community is aware of what is going on.

“If you are healthy and you can do it, this is a really great gift to give back to your community, especially at a time where we are struggling. We have blood drives here at the hospital. Our employees can donate,” said McCoy. “Anybody who is interested in hosting blood drives, the Red Cross would love to hear from you.”

January is National Blood Donor Month.