The Red Cross has declared a blood crisis for the first time after the national supply became dangerously low.
Blood donor turnout dramatically declined as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If the nation’s blood supply does not stabilize soon, life-saving blood may not be available for some patients when it is needed,” the Red Cross said in a joint statement with America’s Blood Centers and the Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies.
New donors declined by 34% in 2019 according to the Red Cross. Blood drive cancellations and staffing issues further stressed America’s blood supply.
Donations further declined in August, when concerns about the COVID-19 delta variant began to increase, adding to an overall 10% decline in blood donations.
“In an attempt to boost blood donations, the Red Cross announced a partnership with the NFL. Individuals who donate blood in January will be entered to win two tickets to the Super Bowl in Los Angeles in February,” reports The Washington Examiner.
The organization noted in its statement that some blood centers have less than a one-day supply of some blood types. The Red Cross says some days it cannot provide hospitals with the blood products they request for surgeries, transplants, cancer treatments, and chronic illnesses.
Approximately 40% of the nation’s blood comes from the red Cross.
“The shortage means doctors are being forced to make tough decisions about who should get blood and who needs to wait until there is more supply,” reports CBS News.
Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer of the Red Cross implored the public to consider making a donation in her statement addressing the shortage.
“While some types of medical care can wait, others can’t,” said Young. “Hospitals are still seeing accident victims, cancer patients, those with blood disorders like sickle cell disease, and individuals who are seriously ill who all need blood transfusions to live even as Omicron cases surge across the country.”
All blood types are in short supply, as are platelet donations.
Anyone who has had COVID-19 is eligible to donate but the non-profit does ask which vaccines a donor has received.