The national blood supply is so low as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the American Red Cross has declared its first ever national blood crisis. In the hopes of encouraging people to roll up their sleeves to donate, the organization is offering up a trip to this year's Super Bowl.
The Red Cross said Tuesday it's seen a 10% decline in the number of people donating blood since the pandemic began. The decline coincided with the emergence of the delta variant of COVID-19 followed by the omicron variant now. Donor turnout is down, blood drives have been canceled and there have been staffing shortages, the organization said.
The Red Cross, America's Blood Centers and the Association for the Advancement of Blood & Biotherapies said in a joint statement Monday that blood centers nationwide have reported less than a one-day’s supply of some critical blood types in the past few weeks.
“While some types of medical care can wait, others can’t,” said Red Cross Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pampee Young in a statement. “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."
The Red Cross highlighted the story of Kristen Mill of Spring Grove, Ill., who needs blood transfusions from ongoing health problems from a tick bite in 2008. Recently, she went to the hospital for a transfusion and was told it had no blood that matched her type.
“It’s very scary, especially if you don’t know if the blood is coming, because this is something that you need to live," Mill said.
The Red Cross said while all blood types are needed, O positive and O negative are of particular need as well as platelet donations.
People who come in to donate until January 31 will be automatically entered to win two tickets to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles, round-trip airfare, three nights of lodging and a $500 gift card for expenses.
Additionally, the Red Cross said it is in need of volunteers to help at blood drives and to transport blood to hospitals across the country.
To sign up to donate, click here.