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Red Cross declares first-ever national blood crisis: How you can help

The American Red Cross said challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the worst blood shortage in more than a decade.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The nation’s dangerously low blood supply prompted the American Red Cross to announce a national blood crisis for the first time ever. 

The organization said the decline in donor turnout, the cancellation of blood drives, and staffing shortages all sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic led to the worst blood shortage in more than a decade.

John Hughes, the Executive Director of the American Red Cross Piedmont Triad Chapter said the Red Cross has less than a one-day supply of critical blood types and has had to limit blood product distributions to hospitals.

“What that means is doctors are having to make decisions on blood transfusions, whether or not someone gets blood or not based on availability,” Hughes said. “In other words, we are collecting less blood daily, weekly, currently than the hospitals have a need for.”

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Hughes said the pandemic has contributed to a 10% overall decline in the number of people donating blood. The pandemic also contributed to a 62% drop in blood drives at schools and colleges. Hughes urges the public to give blood if they can.

“It’s never a drop in the bucket, whether it’s 300 units, whether it’s ten units or just the individual who's giving their donation,” Hughes said. “It’s important because every donation makes a difference to save a life.”

Anyone who donates blood to the American Red Cross in the month of January will automatically be entered for a chance to win a getaway to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles. They will also be entered to win a home theatre package and a $500 e-gift card.

Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCross.org, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).