And that has the Amanda Storm concerned.
Storm, a donor recruitment representative with the Community Blood Center, said only four pints of type O blood -- the most common type -- were on the shelves at the center Monday night.
"This is a very significant shortage," she said.
The center, which provides blood to Lawrence Memorial Hospital, typically aims to have 200 pints of type O blood on hand in case of emergencies. Forty-four percent of the population has type O blood, Storm said, and type O-negative is the universal donor, which means the blood can be given to anyone requiring a transfusion.
"That's why when you're watching ER or something and things are really crazy, they'll yell, 'I need a pint of O-negative,'" Storm said.
Storm blamed the dwindling blood supply on cold and flu bugs, which have limited the number of people eligible to give.
"People have been sick, and we've had to turn them away because of that," she said.
Demand for blood has been increasing by 11 percent each year, but the number of people who give has been increasing by only 3 percent annually. That means the blood center is relying on previous donors to give more often.
The Community Blood Center also has donor sites in Topeka and the Kansas City area, so Lawrence Memorial Hospital can draw from those supplies when blood-giving in Lawrence is low.
Giving is especially sparse among young adults in Lawrence, Storm said. Donors can't have received tattoos or piercings for a year before giving, which disqualifies many in the Lawrence area, she said.
Donors must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. They also must present identification when they give.
The Kansas Blood Services Lawrence office, 535 Gateway Drive, is open from noon to 7 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Fridays. Donors can call 843-5383 to schedule an appointment.
-- Staff writer Terry Rombeck can be reached at 832-7145.