PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Red Cross is sounding the alarm as it faces a national blood crisis, and Vitalant is too. The local blood bank gives blood to UPMC and AHN.

“To provide that blood, we need about 600 people every day to donate blood,” said Kristen Lane, who is the Vitalant communications manager. “In the past 10 years, that number has declined to about 50% and then since the pandemic started, it’s declined even further.”

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Lane says now they have fewer than 300 donors a day while the Red Cross has had a 10% overall donation decline since March 2020.

“The pandemic has really wreaked havoc on the local blood supply in addition to so many loyal blood drive hosts having to cancel their drives,” said Lane.

Lane also says people are concerned about COVID-19 and safety protocols.

This drop in donations has left the Red Cross with less than a one-day supply of critical blood types. It also puts local doctors in a difficult situation.

“We’ve been able to meet our need so far, but the margin’s really thin,” said AHN Trauma Medical Director Dr. Allan Philp. “If you look back two or three years, we could do all the elective cases we needed to. We weren’t concerned that on a busy Friday night if there were a bunch of car crashes or traumas, we’d run out of product. Now you have to ask the question every morning, ‘Where are we on product?’”

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Dr. Philp says this is the worst it’s ever been, and they may even have to delay surgeries.

“Some of the big operations, the big heart operations for example, that might be something that we know is going to require transfusion to get through it safely, we’re having to push down the road potentially a little bit,” said Dr. Philp.

Dr. Philp and Lane are encouraging everyone to donate.

“It’s no risk to go give blood and you don’t know who you may be helping,” said Dr. Philp. “It could be yourself, your family or neighbors. But it would be a huge benefit to the community.”

Just one pint of blood can save up to three lives.

All blood types are urgently needed, especially type O+ and O- and platelets.

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If you want to donate blood, you can schedule an appointment here.