For the first time ever the American Red Cross has declared a national blood crisis.

The organisation, which supplies about 40 percent of the blood in the United States, says its blood banks are experiencing a severe shortage in donations. Most blood centres carry a five-day supply of the various blood types. However, many banks have reported only having a one-day supply, which is forcing doctors to make hard choices about patient care.

The Covid-19 pandemic is being blamed for the shortage. In part, because a rise in the infection rate means a diminishing number of healthy donors. The pandemic has also seen staffing challenges at blood banks and the cancellation of blood drives. Overall, the Red Cross estimates there has been a 10 percent drop in blood donations since March 2020.

In this episode of The Stream, we discuss the crisis, its impact, and ask our panel of experts for solutions.

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