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American Red Cross Declares First-ever Blood Crisis Amid Omicron Surge

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This article has been adapted from American Red Cross.

The American Red Cross faces a national blood crisis – its worst blood shortage in over a decade, posing a concerning risk to patient care. 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. Blood and platelet donations are critically needed to help prevent further delays in vital medical treatments.

The American Red Cross has experienced a 10% decline in the number of people donating blood since the beginning of the pandemic and continues to confront relentless issues due to the pandemic, including ongoing blood drive cancellations and staffing limitations. Adding to the concern is the surge of COVID-19 cases. The American Red Cross has experienced low donor turnout ever since the delta variant began spreading in August, and that trend continues as the Omicron variant takes over.

Blood donation challenges

Supplying 40% of the nation’s blood, the American Red Cross has had to limit blood distributions to hospitals in recent weeks. In fact, on certain days, 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.

All of this comes as January marks National Blood Donor Month, a time to raise awareness about the need for blood donations when regular seasonal illnesses like colds and the flu, as well as winter weather, often leads to a decline in donations.

How you can help

The American Red Cross asks the country to roll up a sleeve to help ensure people receive the care they need. Make an appointment to give blood or platelets as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

In addition to blood donors, the American Red Cross also seeks the help of volunteers to support critical blood collections across the country. Blood drive volunteers and blood transportation specialists are currently needed. Visit for more details on how you can volunteer.

Visit American Red Cross to read the full article and learn more about the impact you can make by donating blood or volunteering.


Explore current American Red Cross volunteering opportunities on Idealist.