Red Cross: Blood donations needed to reverse worst shortage in a decade

The American Red Cross has issued an appeal for blood donations to help reverse what officials say is the worst shortage in more than a decade as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

As an incentive, people who arrange blood donations through the Red Cross website ( during January will be eligible to win a trip to Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13 in Los Angeles, along with other prizes. Appointments also can be made by calling 800-733-2767.

People who give blood at Vitalant donation sites will be eligible to win one of four $5,000 prepaid gift cards.

The Red Cross, which supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood, said the dangerously low level of blood has forced doctors to make decisions about who receives transfusions and who must wait until the blood and platelet supply is replenished.

During the past several weeks, the nation’s blood supply has dipped to critically low levels, with a less than a one-day supply on hand instead of the three-to-five days that is typically maintained, officials said.

There also have been periods during which as many as one-fourth of hospitals have not received the blood and platelets they need to treat patients, according to the agency.

The crisis comes at a time of year when the blood supply is typically at its lowest.

“Winter weather across the country and the recent surge of covid-19 cases are compounding the already-dire situation facing the blood supply,” said Dr. Baia Lasky, medical director for the Red Cross. “Please, if you are eligible, make an appointment to give blood or platelets in the days and weeks ahead to ensure no patient is forced to wait for critical care.”

Officials say all types of blood are needed but especially Type O.

The agency said the number of people donating blood has dropped by about 10% and that building the supply back up has been hampered by a 62% drop in the number of blood drives held at high schools and colleges.

Additionally, nearly 64% of the appointments to donate blood during the next month have not been filled, according to the agency.

The Red Cross said volunteers also are in short supply to help with blood collection. People interested in assisting can sign up online.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368, or via Twitter .

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