The American Red Cross on Tuesday said it declared its first-ever "blood crisis" as it faces the worst national blood shortage in about a decade.
"Amid this crisis, doctors have been forced to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions and who will need to wait until more products become available," the Red Cross said in a statement. "Blood and platelet donations are critically needed to help prevent further delays in vital medical treatments."
The non-profit is urging blood or platelet donations as soon as possible. Potential donors can make appointments online at RedCrossBlood.org, by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor phone app on the iPhone App Store or Android's Google Play.
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Despite the rising necessity for transfusions due to record hospitalizations, the Red Cross said it's seen a 10% decline in blood donations since the start of the pandemic. Low donor turnout has worsened since the delta variant began spreading — with the trend continuing as omicron also spreads.
"Supplying 40% of the nation’s blood, the Red Cross has had to limit blood distributions to hospitals in recent weeks," the organization wrote. "Some hospitals may not receive as much as one-quarter of the blood products requested. Blood cannot be manufactured or stockpiled and can only be made available through the kindness of volunteer donors."
Though donation of all types of blood is welcomed, blood types O positive and O negative, as well as platelet donation, are especially needed.
The recent COVID-19 surge precipitated partly by the omicron variant has led to record daily case counts and rising hospitalizations.
In the United States, there have been more than 61 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and nearly 844,000 deaths, NBC News reports.