WASHINGTON, D.C. - The American Red Cross has declared a national emergency blood shortage. They’re experiencing the lowest amount of people giving blood in the last 20 years. 

Blood storage shelves are looking a lot like this lately: emptier and emptier. The Red Cross said within the past 20 years, blood donations has fallen by about 40 percent. 

“We did declare an emergency blood shortage,” said Dr. Eric Gehrie, executive physician director at the American Red Cross. “The amount for need for blood coming from hospitals was really exceeding from the amount of blood coming in from volunteer donors.” 

Doctors told us they’re unable to keep a large inventory of blood because it can only be stored for a short period of time. With fewer and fewer people donating, the shortage has become a huge concern.  

“In order to meet the need in hospitals we need 8,000 additional donations every week in the month of January,” said Dr. Gehrie. 

They’re now reaching out and asking for people to volunteer and donate blood.  

“For hospitals what this shortage means is that they might need to tell cancer patients who come to clinic to get transfusions they need to come back another day,” said Dr. Gehrie. “We hear stories about women after childbirth start to bleed and may need blood to survive and we hear about those new moms survive because of available blood for transfusion. We also know that small babies, children with cancer, people who have been injured in accidents all benefit. We know people want to do something positive for their communities and we know this is something they can do that can make a big impact in the lives of others.” 

The Red Cross said the two greatest needs are people with type O blood and platelets. They encourage people to volunteer and donate blood to help save a life. You can find out more about donating blood and if you’re qualified on their website.