American Red Cross declares national blood crisis as donations plummet; rep says organization is limited to 1 day delivery

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — Not only are we dealing with a pandemic, but the American Red Cross says we are in a blood crisis that could put patients at risk.

Marcia Antipa is a spokesperson for Red Cross public affairs. She joined ABC7 News on our “Getting Answers” program on Tuesday at 3:00 PM to explain the dire situation.

“In fact, there has been a 10 percent drop in (blood) donations since the start of the pandemic,” Antipa said.

She says donor turnout “has fallen”, in part due to a 62 percent drop in the number of rides at schools and colleges.

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She says the number of donors has always fluctuated, but the reality is, “the need is constant.”

“Every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood,” she said.

How low is the blood supply that it is considered a “national crisis”?

“The Red Cross has fallen back on a one-day supply in recent weeks,” says Antipa.

The one-day provision is nationwide. It’s about the same in the Bay Area, she says.

VIDEO: Blood centers in Bay Area feel impact of coronavirus outbreak

She says this makes it a challenge for the organization to supply hospitals, forcing doctors to make difficult decisions about who will get the blood.

In severe cases, a single patient can use a hospital’s entire blood supply, Antipa explained, telling a sobering story about a woman who not only needed the hospital’s entire supply, but was airlifted to a second treatment center for more.

She noted that the Red Cross strictly supplies the blood, and it is up to hospitals and doctors to decide where it is most needed.

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Aside from a drastic reduction in blood flow, she says many people have stopped donating during the pandemic and the Red Cross, like many medical institutions recently, is also dealing with staff shortages.

This means they are looking for phlebotomists who can be trained and paid, as well as volunteers to staff blood donation stations.

The greatest need, of course, is for blood donors.

“It’s okay to donate if you’re vaccinated,” she said, adding that the blood donation center just wants to know what type of vaccine you had.

Questions about edibility can be answered at: or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.

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The Red Cross also offers incentives, which, according to Antipa, is not new.

By donating in January, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win two tickets to this year’s Super Bowl in Los Angeles.

However, Antipa believes that most people donate out of the goodness of their hearts, not for incentives.

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