The American Red Cross is facing a national blood crisis – its worst blood shortage in more than a decade. Dangerously low blood supply levels are posing a concerning risk to patient care and forcing doctors to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions.

Blood and platelet donations are critically needed to help prevent further delays in vital medical treatments, and donors of all blood types – especially type O − are urged to make an appointment now to give in the weeks ahead.

In recent weeks, the Red Cross had less than a one-day supply of critical blood types and has had to limit blood product distributions to hospitals. At times, as much as one-quarter of hospital blood needs are not being met.

Relentless challenges, due to COVID-19, include a 10 percent decline in the number of blood donors and ongoing blood drive cancellations and staffing limitations. The pandemic has contributed to a 62 percent drop in blood drives at schools and colleges.

Over the next six weeks, about 45 percent of donation appointments remain unfilled in the Northern New England Red Cross Region. Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Blood drive volunteers, who help facilitate collections, and blood transportation specialists, who transport blood to hospitals, are needed. For details, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.

Donors can save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive by completing a RapidPass®, a pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation. To complete a RapidPass®, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass.

Blood donors must bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification at check-in.

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