Red Cross declares emergency blood shortage, offers Super Bowl tickets as incentive

Jan. 10—The American Red Cross announced this week it is facing an emergency blood shortage as it experiences the lowest number of people giving blood in the last 20 years, according to its news release. The Red Cross is the nation's largest blood supplier.

Blood and platelet donations are immediately needed to help alleviate the shortage and enable lifesaving medical procedures to proceed without delay, a Sunday, Jan. 7 news release from the Red Cross said.

"One of the most distressing situations for a doctor is to have a hospital full of patients and an empty refrigerator without any bloods products," said Dr. Pampee Young, Red Cross chief medical officer, according to the news release.

The number of people donating blood through the Red Cross has fallen by about 40% over the past two decades, accordin to the Red Cross. Most recently, COVID-19 accelerated this decline as more people embraced remote work making it challenging for the Red Cross to meet people where they are with convenient blood drives.

Blood banks tend to see a dip in their supply during the winter months, largely due to holidays, travel, illness or inclement weather, according to Claudia Cohn, University of Minnesota Medical School expert and chief medical officer for the Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies, in a news release.

The Red Cross and the National Football League (NFL) are partnering this January, during National Blood Donor Month, to urge individuals to kick off 2024 with a blood or platelet donation. Those who come to give blood, platelets or plasma in January may be automatically entered for a

chance to win a trip for two to Super Bowl LVIII

in Las Vegas. For more information, go to

How often can someone donate blood?

Blood donors can give every 56 days, and platelet donors can give twice per month. If you are donating plasma, you may donate every 28 days; and power red donations are accepted once every 112 days.

Do I have the right blood type?

No matter your blood type — A, B, AB, O or unknown — all blood is used to save lives. You can also donate whole blood, or just certain components like red cells, platelets or plasma.

How long does it take?

Appointment duration depends on the type of blood, or blood component, being donated.

* Whole blood: Donations take approximately one hour; ideal blood types are all blood types; you may donate whole blood once every 56 days, up to six times a year.

* Power Red: Donations take approximately one and a half hours; ideal blood types are O positive, O negative, A negative and B negative blood types; you may donate once every 112 days, up to three times a year.

* Platelets: Donations take approximately two and a half to three hours; ideal blood types are A positive, A negative, B positive, O positive, AB positive and AB negative; you may donate once every seven days, up to 24 times a year.

* Plasma: Donations take about one hour and 15 minutes; ideal blood types are AB positive and AB negative; you may donate once every 28 days, up to 13 times per year.

What if I don't like needles?

The American Red Cross provides three tips to help people face their fear of the needle prick:

* Take pride: Try to focus on the good you are doing — your blood donation can help save more than one life.

* Be prepared: Before your appointment, read up on the donation process so you know what to expect at every step.

* Relax: Listen to music, read a book, talk to our staff, or simply close your eyes and rest for a few minutes.

What if I faint?

Each donation is roughly one pint of blood. The average human being has 10 pints of blood running through them at any given time.

So while you may feel a bit faint or fatigued, lying down for a brief rest and taking it easy will restore those blood levels within a short time.

Am I eligible to donate?

For most donations, the basic requirements are three simple items: you must be in generally good health, you must be 17 or older and you must weigh more than 110 pounds.

The Food and Drug Administration recently lifted several blood donor eligibility restrictions. To view current eligibility guidelines, visit

or call 1-888-448-3253.

Is it safe to donate blood?

The Red Cross uses new, sterile needles for every donation, so there is no risk of cross-contamination or infection. In addition, donors will receive a mini-physical to check their temperature, blood pressure, pulse and hemoglobin levels during their appointment.