ATLANTA — The American Red Cross is facing what it calls a critical shortage of type O blood and says it "urgently needs donors."

According to a release, winter cold and flu season are combining to hold back donations, and the group is trying to restock its shelves.

"In the Georgia region we collected about 900 fewer blood donations between Thanksgiving and the New Year, and every day the Georgia region must collect 538 blood donations," said Ronnika A. McFall of the Red Cross. "So we have a call right now for blood donors to come out and donate blood. You can donate safely every 56 days."

The Red Cross says it only has a three-day supply type O blood available for patient emergencies and medical treatment. The organization says it needs about 13,000 blood donations and 2,600 platelet donations every day to meet the needs of patients who rely on blood to survive.

While type O is the most medically helpful blood donation, because it can be the most widely-transfused to other patients, the Red Cross welcomes donations of all types.

"During the holidays people aren't thinking about blood donations, they're on vacation, they're traveling, they're spending time with family. But our hospital patients, they don't get that break," McFall said. "So all I ask is that you have that constant thought in your mind to donate blood every 56 days."

Here is a list of upcoming blood drives around Atlanta:

The Red Cross asks for interested donors to make an appointment to give blood or platelets using the Red Cross blood donor app, by visiting redcrossblod.org, or calling 1-800-733-2767.

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