Nonprofits offer big incentives as national blood shortage hits crisis level

The Red Cross has declared a national blood crisis and is now offering people the chance to go to the Super Bowl if they donate blood.

Cari Dighton, Regional Communications Director for American Red Cross, said the organization’s inventory is at crisis levels and is considered the worst shortage in more than a decade.

It has forced doctors to choose which patients receive blood transfusions and who must wait.

"We are facing four months of historically low blood supply and surging omicron cases, which is the perfect storm," Dighton said.

There has been a 62% decrease in places like churches, colleges, and schools hosting mobile blood clinics since the start of the pandemic, according to Dighton. The COVID-19 omicron variant has also impacted currently Red Cross staffing levels. Thousands of blood drives across the country, including some in Northern California, have been cancelled due to staffing shortages.

In just 24 hours of putting out the call for donors, there was a boost in appointments. Dighton said there is still 34% of appointments are still available in Northern California.

"Patience is appreciated in this case and we are working very hard to make sure there are opportunities available for everyone that would like to turn out," she said. "We also urge folks to not just look at this week, but next week, and the week after that in the months ahead to make an appointment."

Anyone who a donates to the Red Cross in January is entered to win two tickets to Super Bowl 56 in Los Angeles, with all expenses paid, among other incentives. Click here for more information.

Another nonprofit, Vitalant Blood Donation, is entering its January donors into a raffle for $5,000.

You can make an appointment with the Red Cross through its app, online, or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.

"Blood can't be stockpiled. It can't be manufactured," Dighton said. "We really depend on the generosity of the American public to make an appointment, roll up a sleeve, and give."