The American Red Cross says the United States is facing the worst blood shortage in over a decade as severe weather conditions and the ongoing pandemic have hampered blood drives across the country.
According to the Red Cross, the blood shortage is so dire that doctors must decide who gets blood transfusions and who will have to wait until supplies replenish.
In order to combat the blood shortage, the Red Cross is asking for help with the immediate need for blood and platelet donations.
The deficiency can be attributed to a 10% overall decrease in blood donations since March 2020 and a 62% drop in donation drives at colleges and schools. The blood drives have been canceled due to weather conditions, pandemic-related closings, and staffing shortages.
The Red Cross currently provides 40% of the nation’s blood supply, and while all blood types are necessary, there is an urgent need for type O negative and positive blood. In some instances, there’s only a one-day supply of critical blood sources.
Since the blood can’t be stockpiled or created, hospitals can only rely on regular donations for their blood products. Currently, hospitals are coming up short one out of every four products needed.
The Red Cross is asking the public to make an appointment and even schedule multiple appointments further in advance in order to address the need.
As an incentive, the Red Cross has partnered with the NFL to offer those who donate blood or platelets between January 1-31 a chance to win tickets for a 2022 Super Bowl LVI getaway to Los Angeles, including a $500 gift card for expenses.
In addition to a chance to go to the big game, those who donate in January will also be entered into a Big Game at Home theater package.
Prior to your appointment, the Red Cross recommends eating iron-rich foods, getting plenty of rest, drinking water, and if you’re donating platelets, don’t take aspirin two days prior to your donation day.
To reserve a donation time, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit Redcrossblood.org.