SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Anytime is a good time to donate blood at the American Red Cross, but the summer season is especially crucial.

“We are hinging on a critical need,” explained Lisa Smith, the Executive Director of the Central and Northern New York Chapter of the American Red Cross. “Our donations are down, we’re running right now about 12 percent across the country. So, we’re not at the point that we’re going to be begging people to come out, but we are so close.”

Smith said they need all blood types especially type O. Blood is important in an emergency situation, but also for regular transfusions, needed for diseases like sickle cell.

“It is a blood disorder. The red blood cells harden and kind of form a sickle shape and it’s just harder to flow through the body, so transfusions are really a lifeline to people,” Smith said.

According to the CDC it impacts about 100,000 Americans, predominantly people who are African American and Hispanic American. That’s why they are looking to more people from these communities to roll up their sleeves.

“Everybody has proteins in the blood, but what we’re looking for is a better match for people that have sickle cell disease,” Smith said. “That match is going to come from other black and brown people that carry that same protein in their bodies that can help them the most.”

Smith said many people think if they carry the sickle cell trait, they can’t give blood. She said that is not the case. You can indeed. If you can donate, you’re asked to pre-register online at red-cross-org.

Tuesday, July 19, the Red Cross will team up with Assemblyman Al Stirpe for the 16th Annual Life-Savers Blood Drive. You can help save a life and donate. It’s happening all day at Driver’s Village in Cicero.