Red Cross concerned over blood shortage, adds Super Bowl sweepstakes incentive

Officials with the Red Cross of Silicon Valley said every two seconds, someone somewhere is in need of blood for a medical procedure. But national and local supplies are at historically low levels. 

At the Red Cross' North San Jose headquarters Thursday, they put out an urgent call for donors.

"The reason I donated today is because there is a shortage," said San Jose Dist. 6 councilmember Dev Davis, who was joined by other councilmembers and the San Jose asst. fire chief.

They were all seated late in the morning, to show they stand for giving blood.

According to Red Cross officials, their bare shelves are at historically low levels of all types of blood. A COVID hangover and a wicked "Mother Nature" this winter are to blame.

"Coming out of the holidays, seeing the weather impact the entirety of this country the way that it did…the freezing, the ice, we were forced to close down a lot of blood drives. And weren’t able to run as initially intended," said Justin Mueller, the Northern California region Red Cross donation services executive.

As a result, January’s National Blood Donor Month is taking on newfound urgency. Officials here said the Red Cross is responsible for 40% of the nation’s blood supply. It’s a supply, they emphasize, that’s needed at hospitals and healthcare institutions. So, as the workweek grinds down, the "big ask" is on, using high-profile donors who seek volunteers to give an hour of their time and a pint of blood.

"The Red Cross has been an important part of our community and all communities in terms of lives that are saved from the blood that is collected," said David Cohen, the San Jose City Council Dist. 4 representative. Added Ken Toren, the Silicon Valley Red Cross’ CEO, "They can reach out to their groups and their friends, and their companies and their organizations to be able to extend the word out, and we can collect more and more blood each day." And Davis said, "It really is about saving lives, and having the power to make a difference."

Donations can be made in-person at the Red Cross of Silicon Valley headquarters on North 1st Street in San Jose. Or the agency can come to your site and conduct a blood drive.

Officials announced, as a donation incentive, every person who donates in January will be entered into an NFL sweepstakes drawing for a trip for two to the Super Bowl in Las Vegas, NV, Feb. 11.

Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the station's South Bay bureau. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter), @JesseKTVU and on Instagram, @jessegontv