How the Red Cross Emergency Blood Shortage Could Impact Kids

“The hospital floors are full of kids that need that blood,” the Red Cross shared as the number of US blood donors hit a 20-year low. Learn how the NFL plans to incentivize blood donation with two free tickets to the Super Bowl.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Published January 9, 2024
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Did you know January is National Blood Donor Month? As people kick off New Year’s resolutions and look for ways to give back, the American Red Cross is urging those willing and able to donate blood. On January 7, the organization declared an emergency blood shortage, noting an all-time low in the number of US donors.

Learn more about what may be causing the emergency blood shortage, how it might affect kids and what the NFL is doing to incentivize those to give blood during January below.

What is causing the national blood shortage?

According to the Red Cross, over the last 20 years, the number of people donating blood through the Red Cross has fallen by about 40 percent. “When fewer people donate blood, even small disruptions to blood donations – such as the nearly 7,000-unit shortfall in blood donations the Red Cross experienced between Christmas and New Year’s Day alone – can have a huge impact on the availability of blood products and dramatic consequences for those in need of emergency blood transfusion,” the Red Cross shared in the [emergency announcement](.

While the Red Cross believes the surge in respiratory illnesses like COVID, RSV and the flu is likely behind the short-term decline in donor turnout, a variety of factors have contributed to long-term decline. An increase in remote work has made it more challenging to orchestrate drives at offices, and several eligibility changes were implemented over the past 20 years to safeguard donors, such as raising the minimum hemoglobin thresholds, resulting in an increase in donor deferrals, especially among young donors.

How might the shortage impact kids?

When it comes to blood shortages, the most vulnerable are often put at risk first. Whether it’s blood needed during an emergency c-section or transfusions needed after a car accident, a large portion of donor blood goes to those who need it in emergencies.

But that’s not all. In their emergency announcement, the Red Cross shared the story of Ivy Ward’s 9-year-old son Finn has received “more [blood] products than I ever thought one person could take” since he was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2021. While Ward is thankful for donors who supply her son with the life-saving transfusions he needs, she notes that plenty more donations are needed. “The hospital floors are full of kids that need that blood and would otherwise not be able to survive without it.”

How the NFL is helping incentivize blood donation

If you didn’t already have enough reasons to donate blood, the National Football League (NFL) is upping the ante. During the month of January, those who give blood, platelets or plasma through the American Red Cross will automatically be entered for a chance to win a trip for two to Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. Details about the giveaway can be found at Learn more about how to donate and if you are eligible at

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