HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Amid a national blood shortage, the Holyoke Medical Center on Monday announced they are looking for the public’s help in donating type O positive blood.

More than 75 percent of the blood needed by patients at the medical center comes from people living in Holyoke, Chicopee, South Hadley, and the surrounding communities. The shortage is largely the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to the closure of many schools and colleges, where many blood drives take place.

“I really encourage everyone to get over that fear of COVID-19 and don’t let that prevent you from saving someone else’s life. Always be mindful and safe with this pandemic but there are other diseases that need help,” said Jon Gronbach, Director of Laboratory Services at Holyoke Medical Center.

The American Red Cross said it had “less than a one-day supply of critical blood types” and has had to limit distributions to hospitals. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a 10% overall decline in the number of people donating blood, in addition to ongoing blood drive cancellations and staffing limitations.

Holyoke Medical Center is urging the public to make an appointment to donate all blood types, especially type O positive to help meet the transfusion needs of the local community. The Blood Bank is located on the first floor of Holyoke Medical Center Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Appointments are required by calling the HMC Blood Bank at 413-534‑2591.

“The demand for O Positive blood is higher than the supply that has been donated throughout the region. People who are eligible are encouraged to make a donation and help save the lives of up to two people in our community,” said Gronbach.

All eligible donors will receive a free recognition gift for their donation.