With blood drives canceled due to the coronavirus and social distancing in place across the country, blood banks and hospitals are facing gravely low supplies of blood.
The Red Cross has canceled almost 2,700 blood drives, accounting for an estimated 86,000 lost donations. The American Association of Blood Banks also reports a sharp decrease in the number of people donating at blood centers. Older people, who are most threatened by coronavirus, are also the nation's most prolific blood donors.
"In the United States, a patient is treated with a blood transfusion every two seconds," Debra BenAvram, CEO of the AABB, said in a recent press release. "This is only possible through the generosity of our country's volunteer blood donors. They are the heroes who make lifesaving treatment a reality."
Organizations such as The Red Cross and AABB are asking for large numbers of healthy young people to start donating blood.
"There's no alternative source of blood," said Eduardo Nunes, a vice president at the AABB. "It's the easiest way to save a life during this pandemic."
Experts note that respiratory illnesses usually are not transferred via blood transfusion, and The Red Cross says it has ramped up disinfecting processes and other measures to keep donors healthy.