The American Red Cross urges people of all races and ethnicities to give blood or platelets to help increase the diversity of the blood supply. The vast majority of blood types fall into one of the major blood groups. However, for patients with rare blood types or those who receive regular blood transfusions, blood must be matched closely - beyond the primary A, B, O and AB blood types - to reduce the risk of developing complications from transfusion therapy. The best match may be someone of the same racial or ethnic group. Eight-year-old AJ Torres requires blood transfusions to treat complications from sickle cell disease, the most common genetic disease in the U.S. The disease is most common among people of African descent or Latino descent, like AJ, and can sometimes cause small blood vessels to become blocked. Diverse donors are important to ensuring AJ has the blood products he needs to regain his health. \u201cWithin minutes of receiving a blood transfusion, I watch his strength be restored, pain vanish and energy return. Soon he transforms back to himself - a rambunctious little boy,\u201d said his mom, Caira Torres. \u201cIf an 8-year-old can withstand a needle, so can you.\u201d Donors of all blood types, as well as all races and ethnicities, are needed to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse patient population. Appointments can be made by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800- 733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device. As a thank-you, those who come to give blood or platelets during the month of October will automatically be entered for a chance to win one of five $500 gift cards redeemable at hundreds of merchants, courtesy of Tango Card. Terms apply; see rcblood.org\/game. Upcoming blood donation opportunities: Trumbull \u2014 Oct. 8: 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Insports Centers, 29 Trefoil Drive; Oct. 10: 1:15-6:15 p.m., Maefair Health Care Center, 21 Maefair Ct.; Oct. 14, 1:30-6:30 p.m., Grace Episcopal Church, 5958 Main St. Shelton \u2014 Oct. 1: 1-6 p.m., First United Methodist Church, 188 Rocky Rest Road; Oct. 4: 1-6 p.m., Shelton Community Center, 41 Church Street How to donate blood Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1- 800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver\u2019s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements. Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass\u00ae to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. Follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org\/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.