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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — The American Red Cross is facing its first-ever nationwide blood crisis. The non-profit made the announcement Tuesday and said the crisis means there is not enough blood on the shelves to meet the current need. Transfusions and other operations could also be at risk.

“The need is great. This is the lowest we’ve seen our blood supplies in over 10 years,” said Beth Elders, the executive director of the American Red Cross’ St. Louis chapter.

Elders said the blood crisis has hit the St. Louis area, which is seeing a drop in donations.

“In fact, right now in our region, we have 74% of our blood donor appointments unfilled for this month,” Elders told FOX 2.

She said the reason could be increased surgeries and operations, as well as a decrease in healthy and willing donors due to the pandemic. She said the issue could put lives at stake.

“We don’t have the blood on the shelves for especially those critical blood types. We’re not able to fulfill all of the requests that we get in for those vital blood products,” Elders explains.

Long-time donor James Brady said he’s been donating his blood for more than 30 years and knows firsthand how vital blood is.

“I was in a car accident, and I had a serious injury, and I needed a lot of blood to survive the accident,” Brady said. ”It’s the least I could do the way that I look at it. Somebody helped me out, and I know that there are people down the road that I’m helping out too.”

Elders say the simple solution – is to come and donate.

“It makes me feel helpless and I wish we could do so much more, but it’s really pleading on our community now. We’ve hit the point that we need everyone to step up, to roll up their sleeves, and to go,” Elders said.

Blood and platelet donations are critically needed to help prevent further delays in vital medical treatments, and donors of all blood types – especially type O − are urged to make an appointment now to give in the weeks ahead.

The Red Cross also has some special events and incentives for donors. Next week, the Saint Louis Blues are hosting several blood drives on January 20th. Donors who donate will get a free blues T-shirt.

For information on blood drives and scheduling an appointment with the Red Cross, visit: https://www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/find-drive