Washington state health officials and blood donation centers are urging potential donors to help address the state’s critically low blood supply.

Blood donations often decrease after the holiday season, creating a shortage, said Christine Swinehart, president and CEO of Cascade Regional Blood Services. Donations are essential for patients undergoing surgeries, cancer treatments, blood disorder treatments, childbirth complications and other serious conditions and injuries, according to the Washington state Department of Health and the Northwest Blood Coalition of four donation centers. Washington state will remain at a critical level until donations increase, the DOH said.

Bloodworks Northwest in Seattle last month issued a “Code Red” emergency because of its low supply.

The DOH and the Northwest Blood Coalition are encouraging eligible donors to donate during January, which is National Blood Donor Month. Most people 18 and older who are in good health and weigh 110 pounds or more can donate blood, according to DOH. People with Type O blood are especially encouraged to donate because it can be used when a patient’s blood type isn’t known.

The Food and Drug Administration said this week it is moving to ease restrictions on blood donations from men who have sex with men. The draft guidelines would eliminate the three-month abstinence requirement and instead screen based on sexual behavior, recent partners and other factors.

FDA to ease blood donation ban on gay men, allow monogamous to give

For information on how to donate, visit RedCrossBlood.org, BloodworksNW.org, Vitalant.org/donate or CRBS.net/donate.